Tuesday 02 Sep 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Notah Begay III, advocate for Native American children’s health, has heart attack

Published: 10:24 am CDT, April 30, 2014

Golf analyst Notal Begay III with Suzette Harris, a communications manager for the American Heart Association.

Notah Begay III, four-time PGA Tour Winner, golf analyst and founder of the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation suffered a heart attack last week in Dallas.

He received a stent to unblock his right coronary artery and is expected to make a full recovery, according to a statement made by his foundation.

The NB3 Foundation, which Begay established to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native American children, reported on its website on Wednesday that Begay was home and in good spirits.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support and well wishes and am thankful for the excellent medical care I received. I look forward to returning to my duties as a golf analyst and to continuing the important work of my Foundation. This experience has reinforced for me the need to urgently address health and wellness issues among Native American youth,” Begay said on the site.

Native Americans have higher obesity rates than other population groups. Data from 2011 show that American Indian/Alaskan Native youth have an obesity rate of 17.7 percent, while rates are 14.7 percent for Hispanics, 10.6 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, 10.3 percent for non-Hispanic whites, and 9.3 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders.

The NB3 Foundation has helped Native American youth through several programs, including soccer and golf clinics, nutrition and health education in tribal communities, and their signature program in San Felipe Pueblo, N.M. The foundation focuses on a culturally appropriate nutrition curriculum as well as physical activity. Promising results show improvements in health knowledge and health outcomes and the organization plans to expand its approach throughout tribal communities.

Last July, Begay joined the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to speak on the progress being made on childhood obesity in New Mexico. While third-graders in the state showed a 5.3 percent decline, similar declines were not being seen among Native American youth. He described the importance of using his Economic 101 professor’s mantra of “creating win-win propositions for everyone involved” to leverage resources that will affect change.

Photo courtesy of Suzette Harris.