Obesity and being overweight is becoming a major health problem among Cree children, youth and adults in Eeyou Istchee. The sedentary lifestyle and a lack of physical activity puts them are at great risk for developing diabetes, and many other serious diseases at a very young age. This wave of weight problems has the Eeyou Istchee Public Health Department officials worried.

Studies conducted by the Eeyou Istchee Public Health Department have revealed some alarming statistics concerning the weight problem in the Cree Nation. In one study, conducted in three communities, the public health workers compared the weights of the 6 to 12 year old children in schools today with Cree children of the same age 50 years ago. They discovered that between 1930 and 1950, only 17% (1 out of every 6) of Cree children were considered overweight. Presently 48% of Cree children are overweight: 1 out of every 2 children are overweight! Of the overweight children, almost half were considered obese (very overweight).

In another study conducted in 1999-2000 during the diabetes screening in two Cree communities, the Public Health Department discovered that 43% of youth age 9-19 are overweight and 81% of adults age 19 years and older are overweight.

In order to promote weight loss and more physical activity, the Eeyou Istchee Public Health Department is initiating the 100 Mile Club. George L. Diamond, a health promotion officer, says, “We must encourage walking on a regular basis. We are challenging the Cree people in Eeyou Istchee to walk 100 miles in a 100 days. The 100 Mile Club is a fun way for Eeyouch to increase their physical activity this summer. Participants must form teams of two or more people and register to win some prizes.”

Dr. David Dannenbaum, a physician and a diabetes specialist with the Public Health Department says, “Walking is the best exercise the people can do anytime, anywhere and it is not expensive. You will burn just as many calories if you walk 100 miles just as if you run it. An increase in physical activity will improve physical health as well as emotional, mental and spiritual health.”

The benefits of walking and participating in the 100 Mile Club’s challenge will improve your health in many ways including the following:

•Prevention of diabetes

•Increases life expectancy

•Improves immunity to disease.

•Helps in weight loss and control

•Improves mental health and reduces stress

•Lower incidences of heart attacks, high blood pressure (hypertension), cancers of the colon and reproductive organs.

•Strengthen your bones, and reduce bone fractures produced by osteoporosis

•Improves overall physical fitness including cardio respiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance

To participate and register your team in the 100 Mile Club, please contact your local 100 Mile Club coordinator.