Is Genetic Labeling of "Risk" Related to Obesity Contributing to Resistance and Fatalism in Polynesian Communities?

Date
2014
Authors
Rodriguez, Lena
George, James Rimumutu
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawai‘i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Abstract
For Western health professionals, obesity and related illnesses are viewed as preventable and arising from lifestyle choices; however, for Polynesians and many other Indigenous peoples, these same diseases are regarded as genetically determined. This article examines this contradiction and questions whether high clusters of these illnesses are evidence of “faulty genes” or are a product of other socioeconomic and cultural influences related to postcolonial marginalization. We suggest that both the ways genetic findings are disseminated and a limited understanding of their predictive capacity may in fact contribute to certain fatalistic attitudes within these populations. Labeling Polynesians “at risk” can engender fear in the community, arguably leading to a greater reluctance of people to be tested. In turn, this leads to more Polynesians presenting late for treatment as well as to poorer outcomes. Our article focuses on the results of qualitative interviews with sixty-seven Polynesian migrants to Australia.
Description
Keywords
Polynesian, Indigenous health, obesity, genetics, risk, migration
Citation
Rodriguez, L., and Rimumutu, J. 2014. Is Genetic Labeling of "Risk" Related to Obesity Contributing to Resistance and Fatalism in Polynesian Communities? The Contemporary Pacific 26 (1): 65-93.
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