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D. Understanding Social & Cultural Differences in Medical Research

Narrator: This is Science Today. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 18 million Americans of all ages and ethnic groups. But research has long indicated that the disease is most prevalent in Hispanic-, African- and Native-Americans. Michael Montoya, an assistant professor of anthropology and Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California at Irvine , has been studying how medical research is influenced by social and cultural differences.

Montoya: Often times we look at ethnic groups as the ones most impacted by this emerging epidemic and when we do that, often times it's explained as a susceptibility of that ethnic group. The problems with that are that if we think of it as a susceptibility of an ethnic group, then we don't fully appreciate what's causing the disease. We think it's just having to do with their genes or their biology and then we don't push further to find out what are the environmental conditions, what are the social factors that are far more predictive of what groups get Type 2 diabetes.

Narrator: The number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.