Eating habits of a population undergoing a rapid dietary transition: portion sizes of traditional and non-traditional foods and beverages consumed by Inuit adults in Nunavut, Canada

Nutr J. 2013 Jun 2;12:70. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-70.


Background: To determine the portion sizes of traditional and non-traditional foods being consumed by Inuit adults in three remote communities in Nunavut, Canada.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out between June and October, 2008. Trained field workers collected dietary data using a culturally appropriate, validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire (QFFQ) developed specifically for the study population.

Results: Caribou, muktuk (whale blubber and skin) and Arctic char (salmon family), were the most commonly consumed traditional foods; mean portion sizes for traditional foods ranged from 10 g for fermented seal fat to 424 g for fried caribou. Fried bannock and white bread were consumed by >85% of participants; mean portion sizes for these foods were 189 g and 70 g, respectively. Sugar-sweetened beverages and energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods were also widely consumed. Mean portion sizes for regular pop and sweetened juices with added sugar were 663 g and 572 g, respectively. Mean portion sizes for potato chips, pilot biscuits, cakes, chocolate and cookies were 59 g, 59 g, 106 g, 59 g, and 46 g, respectively.

Conclusions: The present study provides further evidence of the nutrition transition that is occurring among Inuit in the Canadian Arctic. It also highlights a number of foods and beverages that could be targeted in future nutritional intervention programs aimed at obesity and diet-related chronic disease prevention in these and other Inuit communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Beverages
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Inuit*
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Nunavut / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Population Groups
  • Portion Size*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • Young Adult