Obesity, Diabetes and the Thrifty Gene. The Case of the Pima

The great tenacity and perseverance with which the Gila River Pima fight diabetes has uncovered much about the disease. Thank you to Gila River Pima a most significant discovery has made that is genetic discoveries made on samples from Caucasian are not useful for the cure of the disease among the Pima or other minorities. Several anthropologic studies50 have documented the interpretations of Native Americans affected by diabetes regarding the etiology of the disease, the experience of illness, and the efficacy of treatment. Many Native American communities perceive diabetes as a new disease that has come from the outside. Moreover many native and indigenous peoples are convinced or are persuaded to refuse the taking of samples of genetic material for purposes of study. The motivation is the possible exploitation by multinational drug companies. We assume that this exploitation exists and / or is possible, we are not naive to the point. But the most important question is: do those communities know that the genetic discoveries made on other segments of the human race cannot be effective for them? Do they know that refusing the genetic research they may also refuse treatment and continue to be victims of the disease? Is it theirs an informed choice? The Pima have not followed the sirens of politicized antiscientism and are trying to improve their health. This is the great lesson that the Pima are giving us.