Study shows that indigenous people are not genetically prone to diabetes

Apr 16, 2007

The high rate of diabetes among indigenous people is not due to their genetic heritage, according to a recently published study.

The study was authored by Dr Yin Paradies, an epidemiologist from Darwin's Menzies School of Health Research along with two researchers from the United States. It shows that the high rates of diabetes among indigenous people across the globe are rooted in social disadvantage rather than a genetic pre-disposition specific to indigenous populations.

"Around the world, indigenous people suffer from diabetes at 2-5 times the rate of non-indigenous people", says Dr Paradies.

"There is a common misconception that diabetes is 'in the genes' for Indigenous people. This idea stems from the 'thrifty gene hypothesis' which proposes that cycles of feast and famine in indigenous societies created a gene that was very efficient at using nutrients. According to this hypothesis, such efficiency combined with a modern affluent and sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity and diabetes among indigenous people."

"Although there is certainly a genetic component to diabetes that affects people throughout society, the idea that indigenous people have a 'thrifty gene' is dispelled by our research which shows that when it comes to diabetes, genes are no more important for indigenous people than for anyone else."

"Instead, it is aspects of the social environment that are responsible for the high rates of diabetes among indigenous people. Poor diet, reduced physical activity, stress, low birth weight and other factors associated with poverty all contribute to the high rate of diabetes among indigenous people", Dr Paradies said.

"For indigenous people, diabetes will only be tackled by addressing poverty and social disadvantage".

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Age of puberty in girls influenced by which parent their genes are inherited from

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Neanderthals' genetic legacy

Jan 29, 2014

Remnants of Neanderthal DNA in modern humans are associated with genes affecting type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease, lupus, biliary cirrhosis and smoking behavior. They also concentrate in genes that influence ...

Hardier cassava offers promise for hungry Africa

Nov 01, 2012

(AP)—From this field nestled among the lush rolling hills of Nigeria's southwest, the small plants rising out the hard red dirt appear fragile, easily crushed by weather or chance.

Huskies lend insight into mercury risk

Nov 20, 2011

Researchers have highlighted the serious health risks associated with the diets of indigenous people by linking the accumulation of mercury in their primary food source to a decrease in the power of antioxidants.

Aboriginal Australians at risk of bone, muscle pain

Feb 07, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Aboriginal Australians are at risk of increased bone and muscle pain due to their inability to produce sufficient vitamin D, according to a University of Adelaide study published in the Medical Jo ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find new mechanism for neurodegeneration

10 hours ago

A research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Investigator Susan Ackerman, Ph.D., have pinpointed a surprising mechanism behind neurodegeneration in mice, one that involves a defect in a key component ...

Schizophrenia's genetic architecture revealed (w/ Video)

Jul 23, 2014

Queensland scientists are closer to effective treatments for schizophrenia after uncovering dozens of sites across the human genome that are strongly associated with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.

Mysterious esophagus disease is autoimmune after all

Jul 22, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Achalasia is a rare disease – it affects 1 in 100,000 people – characterized by a loss of nerve cells in the esophageal wall. While its cause remains unknown, a new study by a team of researchers at ...

User comments : 0