Sex differences in obesity prevalence and cardiometabolic factors among Western Alaska Native people

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Mar;25(3):312-8. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.10.012. Epub 2014 Oct 29.


Background and aims: Obesity is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Prevalence estimates for metabolic disorders are well documented in many populations, but Alaska Native groups are understudied. The Western Alaska Tribal Collaborative for Health Study combines data from three Alaska Native study cohorts to assess differences in obesity prevalence and associations with cardiometabolic risk factors by sex.

Methods and results: Analyses were based upon a sample of 3985 adult Yup'ik and Inupiat participants with a mean age of 40 years. Prevalence of obesity and metabolic risk factors was assessed according to nationally recognized guidelines. Regression analysis was used to evaluate the association between obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors, including lipids, blood pressure and glucose. The prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30) was significantly higher in women (40%) than men (20%). Only 18.6% of men had a waist circumference (WC) > 102 cm, while 58% of women had a WC > 88 cm (p < 0.001). Women had higher mean HDL-C and triglyceride levels compared to men, while systolic and diastolic blood pressure, LDL-C, and glucose means were higher in men than in women. In multivariate analyses, BMI and WC were significantly associated with all of the cardiometabolic risk factors, although these associations were more pronounced in men than women.

Conclusion: The high prevalence of obesity and central adiposity among AN women is an important public health concern. Differences in associations between obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors by sex warrants further investigation to develop effective intervention programs.

Keywords: Alaska Native; Cardiometabolic; Diabetes; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alaska / epidemiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inuits
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides