Study encourages Native Americans to return to traditional diet

Lawton_Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death among Native Americans, and the Center of American Indian Health Research is responding to this concern with a unique study.  "A Return to Balance", or the balance study is attempting to educate Native Americans about diet.  The idea is to return to a diet consisting of vegetables and lean meats - the original diet of their ancestors.

Linda Poolaw and Melanie Johnson are in Lawton recruiting tribal members, 30-75 years old, for the study.  They are from OU Health Sciences Center and they say, with this study, they hope to prevent heart disease in a way that will encourage Native Americans to eat healthfully, using tradition as an incentive.

Poolaw says she doesn't quite know why heart disease is so prevalent among Native Americans, but her theory is that this group has been exposed to very unhealthy and non-traditional foods.

Johnson is the Research Project Coordinator and says this study, like others, focuses on diet and physical fitness.  But, she says this program will concentrate on Native American spirituality, too.

Poolaw says spirituality keeps Native Americans in touch with their culture, and she hopes that that bond will be strengthened if their bodies are as nourished as their souls.

The balance study is trying to recruit more than 200 Native Americans to participate in the study.  If you are Native American, between 30-75 years old, and interested in participating in the study, there will be an informational meeting at the Lawton Indian Hospital, Tuesday, February 19, at 11 a.m..  There will be an eligibility screening following the meeting.  For more information, call 405-247-2300 or visit their website at