UNNATURAL CAUSES ...is inequality making us sick?
Rebroadcast Fridays at 10PM, October 9, 16, 23, 30, 2009. Dates and times may vary. Check local listings.
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Hour 1 Hour 2 Hour 3 Hour 4 Trailer

Hour 3 is made up of two segments. “Bad Sugar” explores the causes and effects of diabetes within two Native American communities. “Place Matters” connects the dots between health, wealth and zip codes.

Bad Sugar (1st segment)

woman preparing insulin injection

The Pima and Tohono O’odham Indians of southern Arizona have arguably the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes in the world.  A century ago, the disease was virtually unknown here, but the subsequent diversion of river water destroyed farms and traditional ways, plunging local tribes into poverty and dependence. A sense of “futurelessness” took hold. And so did diabetes.

Decades of medical interventions have not stemmed the tide, not only among Native Americans but globally. In 2004 the Pima finally won back their water rights and are beginning to farm again.  Community leaders are cautiously optimistic that community empowerment and sustainable and culturally appropriate development can restore prosperity, hope, and health.


Video Web exclusive - Genes or Environment? Diabetes among the Pima »

Video Web exclusive - Tohono O’odham Community Action – Cultural renewal as the key to better health »

Video Segment excerpt: The relationship between diabetes and water rights for Native Americans in Arizona »


Document Transcript (PDF) »

Document Slideshow of photographs taken by Tohono O’odham artist and activist Terrol Dew Johnson »

Document Tohono O'odham Community Action Web site »

Document Article: "Tradition may be key to healthier future for tribes" »

Place Matters

boy with bike on abandoned-looking street

Latinos and Southeast Asians like Gwai Boonkeut have been moving into long-neglected Black urban neighborhoods like those in Richmond, California. Segregation and a lack of jobs, access to fresh foods, safe parks, and affordable quality housing has harmed the health of their African American neighbors, and now the newcomers’ health is suffering too.

In the Pacific Northwest, a similar neighborhood, High Point in West Seattle, is emerging as a promising alternative. Community members, local government, and developers took a radical approach to improve their built environment: they used federal funds to rebuild a new mixed-income community with health as its focus.


Video Web exclusive - The YES! Program in Richmond – Hope as an alternative to violence »

Video Web exclusive - Richmond’s struggle for clean air »

Video Segment excerpt: Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is bad for your health »


Document Transcript (PDF) »

Document "Why Place Matters: Building a Movement for Healthy Communities" (PDF) »

Document "A Place for Healthier Living: Improving Access to Physical Activity and Healthy Foods" » (Note: the Joint Center is a funder of this series)

Document "Building Stronger Communities for Better Health" » (Note: the Joint Center is a funder of this series)

Document "Toxic Wastes and Race" (PDF) »

Produced by
California Newsreel
With Vital Pictures, Inc.
Presented by
the National Minority Consortia
of Public Television
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