Arctic Indigenous Peoples Experience the Nutrition Transition with Changing Dietary Patterns and Obesity1-3

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Indigenous Peoples globally are part of the nutrition transition. They may be among the most extreme for the extent of dietary change experienced in the last few decades. In this paper, we report survey data from 44 representative communities from 3 large cultural areas of the Canadian Arctic: the Yukon First Nations, Dene/Métis, and Inuit communities. Dietary change was represented in 2 ways: 1) considering the current proportion of traditional food (TF) in contrast to the precontact period (100% TF); and 2) the amount of TF consumed by older vs. younger generations. Total diet, TF, and BMI data from adults were investigated. On days when TF was consumed, there was significantly less (P < 0.01) fat, carbohydrate, and sugar in the diet, and more protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. Vitamin C and folate, provided mainly by fortified food, and fiber were higher (P < 0.01) on days without TF for Inuit. Only 10-36% of energy was derived from TF; adults > 40 y old consistently consumed more (P < 0.05) TF than those younger. Overall obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) of Arctic adults exceeded all-Canadian rates. Measures to improve nutrient-dense market food (MF) availability and use are called for, as are ways to maintain or increase TF use. J. Nutr. 124: 1447-1453, 2004.

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