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Native America Calling to Feature Mary Annette Pember in Segment Examing Obesity and Addiction to Food

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Today at 1 p.m. EST, Native America Calling will feature Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, an independent journalist and writer for Indian Country Today Media Network, in its segment on food addiction.

According to the Indian Health Service, 80 percent of American Indian and Alaska Natives ages 20 to74 are either obese or overweight. Native America Calling asks: "Why is this so? Is the kind of food we are eating like high fat foods, high carbohydrates and processed foods causing these high rates? Or, is it an addiction to food?"

Pember intimately understands this battle with food. After struggling with her weight for the majority of her life, Pember found herself diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in November 2008. By November 2011, she decided it was time to face her addiction head on. "Like so many addicts before me, I had hit bottom," Pember wrote in her blog post "Eat, Pray, Love...East Some More" on Daily Yonder. "My collapse is expressed in physical pain in my hips, my knees and my back and nearly constant fatigue. I began to despair about surviving long enough to raise my kids, who are ages 7 and 13. "

Understanding her medicating relationship with food helped Pember change her ways.

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In her Daily Yonder blog, Pember refers to an article by Mark Hyman, MD, “Food Addiction: Could It Explain Why 70 Percent of Americans are Obese?”

"Nobody chooses to be a heroin addict, cokehead, or drunk," said Dr. Hyman. "Nobody chooses to be fat, either. The behaviors arise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower and overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger.”

Acknowledging her addiction helped Pember regain her health. "I have found this admission of powerlessness over food to be remarkably sustaining as I work on changing my eating and exercise habits," she wrote in her blog.

Pember joined Weight Watchers and began exercising regularly. In February 2012, she reported she had lost 25 pounds. She is currently 8 pounds above her correct BMI, she told ICTMN.

To hear more about Pember's personal struggle and victories over her addiction to food, tune in to your local live stream channel found at, or listen to the program on the Native America Calling website.