The Relationship of Nutritional and Health Status, Diabetes, and Stress to Food Security Among the Northern Cheyenne
Research Center: American Indian Studies Program, The University of Arizona
Investigator: Davis, Judith, Rita Hiwalker, Carol Ward, Cheryl Youngstrom, Weibo Li, and Erin Feinaur
Institution: Dull Knife Memorial College
Judith Davis, Dean of Academic Affairs
Dull Knife Memorial College
1 College Drive
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Phone: 406-477-6215, X-124
This project examined the relationships between food
insecurity, nutrition, stress, and health status on the
Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The authors assessed
the food security and nutritional status of Northern
Cheyenne residents, identified stress factors that may
contribute to the development of health
problems—especially the risk for diabetes.
The research design included collection of both quantitative
and qualitative data. The authors collected quantitative
data from a stratified sample of approximately
475 households on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.
The survey included questions about demographic
characteristics and questions used to measure household
food security and individual and family stress
levels. The survey also contained questions about
nutrition and health risks, including the risk factors
associated with diabetes. The authors also collected
qualitative data from 10 indepth, unstructured interviews
with reservation residents and diabetes program
staff regarding nutrition and diet, as well as sources of
stress that may affect health and quality of life.
The authors found that almost 70 percent of residents
of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation live in foodinsecure
households, and that almost 35 percent live in
households classified as food insecure with hunger.
Almost one-fourth of survey respondents report that
they have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared
with roughly 4 percent of the overall U.S. population.
Survey respondents were asked about several conditions
or behaviors associated with an increased risk of
diabetes. The research found that almost three in four
residents are classified at medium or high risk for
diabetes, as defined by the American Diabetes
Association. The risk of diabetes is fairly constant
throughout many different subgroups of the population
and at many different levels of education and employment
status. However, reservation residents age 55 and
older are at a lower risk of diabetes than younger residents.
The researchers also found that about one-fourth
of reservation residents report high levels of stress, and
that those with higher levels of education and who
work more hours are more likely to report high stress
The results of the logistic regression analysis indicated
that the age of the household head and the number of
children in the household are positively related to the
likelihood that the household is food insecure.
Households in which the head is employed part-time
or in seasonal work experience higher rates of food
insecurity than those in which the head is employed
full-time. Respondents that report high levels of stress
are more likely to experience food insecurity.
The authors note that this data analysis suggests the
importance of continued attention to many aspects of
reservation life and, in particular, to the factors
producing high levels of diabetes and diabetes risk in
Native American populations.