Objectives: To describe traditional food (TF) consumption and to evaluate its impact on nutrient intakes of preschool Inuit children from Nunavik.
Design: A cross-sectional study.
Methods: Dietary intakes of children were assessed with a single 24-hour recall (n=217). TF consumption at home and at the childcare centres was compared. Differences in children's nutrient intakes when consuming or not consuming at least 1 TF item were examined using ANCOVA.
Results: A total of 245 children attending childcare centres in 10 communities of Nunavik were recruited between 2006 and 2010. The children's mean age was 25.0±9.6 months (11-54 months). Thirty-six percent of children had consumed at least 1 TF item on the day of the recall. TF contributed to 2.6% of total energy intake. Caribou and Arctic char were the most reported TF species. Land animals and fish/shellfish were the main contributors to energy intake from TF (38 and 33%, respectively). In spite of a low TF intake, children who consumed TF had significantly (p<0.05) higher intakes of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, and lower intakes of energy and carbohydrate compared with non-consumers. There was no significant difference in any of the socio-economic variables between children who consumed TF and those who did not.
Conclusion: Although TF was not eaten much, it contributed significantly to the nutrient intakes of children. Consumption of TF should be encouraged as it provides many nutritional, economic, and sociocultural benefits.
Keywords: Arctic Canada; Inuit; dietary transition; nutrient intake; preschool children; traditional food.