Inuit dietary patterns in modern Greenland

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2010 Feb;69(1):13-24. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v69i1.17387.


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to apply two different approaches of dietary pattern definition to data from Greenland and to analyse the contemporary dietary patterns of the Inuit in Greenland in relation to urbanization and socio-economic positions.

Study design: Cross-sectional population survey.

Methods: A total of 2,247 Inuit aged 18+ from 15 towns and villages in West Greenland (25% of all communities) were interviewed about their diet as part of a general health survey. A 67-item Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) with portion sizes was used as the survey instrument. The analyses were based on 2,026 individuals who reported realistic daily energy intakes. Dietary patterns were determined by two different methods: a factor-cum-cluster analysis, and a normative approach based on adherence to dietary recommendations.

Results: The 2 approaches resulted in 6 respective and 5 partly overlapping dietary patterns. The distribution of patterns varied significantly according to age, gender, urbanization and socio-economic position. A healthy diet was most often reported by women aged 35+, who lived in towns and who belonged to the upper social stratum; an unhealthy diet was reported by young men and women irrespective of urbanization or social position; and a traditional diet was reported increasingly with age, among village residents and by hunters/fishermen and their families.

Conclusions: The two methodological approaches gave comparable results. The normative approach can be extended to other data sets and its results are directly applicable to dietary intervention, while the data-driven approach can identify novel patterns but is tied to the actual data set.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Greenland
  • Humans
  • Inuit*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult