Health Status > Special Populations
American Indian/Alaska Native Women
Just over one percent of the U.S. adult population,
or 2.7 million adults, identify themselves as American Indian or
Alaska Native, either alone or combined with one or more other races.
American Indian and Alaska Native populations are distributed throughout
the country, but are largely located in the West (43 percent), South
(31 percent), and Midwest (17 percent); some populations also live
in the Northeast (9 percent). The population is diverse and includes
many different tribes and cultures. However, these communities generally
face many challenges, including higher rates of poverty, lower rates
of educational attainment and health insurance coverage, and higher
prevalence and mortality rates for a number of diseases than other
races.1 American Indians and Alaska Natives are also more likely
than adults of other races to smoke, use alcohol, and be overweight
American Indian and Alaska Native women are less
likely than their male counterparts to engage in selected health
risk behaviors. The only exception is smoking: in 1999-2003, 34.7
percent of women in this population smoked, compared to 32.3 percent
of men. However, women were less likely than men to engage in regular
leisure-time physical activity (22.6 versus 30.3 percent).
Compared to women of other races, American Indian
and Alaska Native women had the highest rates of heart disease,
diabetes, ulcers, and migraines or severe headaches, and the second
highest rates of hypertension and cancer.
1 Barnes PM, Adams PF, Powell-Griner E. Health
characteristics of the American Indian and Alaska Native adult population:
United States, 1999-2003. Advanced Data from Vital and Health Statistics,
No. 356; 2005 Apr.