Inuit Country Food Diet Pattern Is Associated with Lower Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018 Jul;118(7):1237-1248.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2018.02.004. Epub 2018 Apr 21.


Background: Inuit have experienced a rapid transition in diet and lifestyle over the past several decades, paralleled by the emergence of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Objective: To identify contemporary dietary patterns among Inuit and investigate their association with cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Design: This was an association study in a cross-sectional population health and nutrition survey.

Participants: The participants included 1,570 adults (aged ≥18 years) from Nunavut in the International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey 2007-2008 who completed diet/health questionnaires and provided blood samples.

Main outcome measures: Outcomes measured included the prevalence of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension.

Statistical analyses performed: Principal component analysis was used to derive dietary patterns based on the consumption of nine market food groups and four country food groups reported in 24-hour dietary recalls. The associations between cardiovascular outcomes and identified dietary patterns were examined with logistic regression.

Results: Three dietary patterns were identified: market food, country food-fat, and country food-fish. The market food diet, characterized by high consumption of market-bought meat, cereals, vegetables, and added oil, was associated with elevated prevalence of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and hypertension (odds ratio [OR] 1.44, 95% CI 0.82 to 2.51; OR 2.27, 95% CI 0.88 to 5.83; and OR 1.36, 95% CI 0.88 to 2.09). The country food-fish diet, characterized by high fish consumption and low sugar and sweets intake, was inversely associated with the prevalence of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, and hyperlipidemia (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.37; OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.18 to 1.20; OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.07 to 2.13; and OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.22). The country food-fat diet, characterized by high marine mammal and added fat intake, was positively associated with the prevalence of coronary heart disease.

Conclusions: A diet featuring high food variety, high fish intake, and low sugar intake was negatively associated with the prevalence of cardiovascular outcomes among Inuit.

Keywords: Country food; Diet pattern; Heart disease; Inuit; Traditional food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / ethnology
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet / ethnology
  • Diet / methods
  • Edible Grain
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology
  • Hyperlipidemias / ethnology
  • Hyperlipidemias / etiology
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / ethnology
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Inuit / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Style
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Meat / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Nunavut / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood / analysis
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / ethnology
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Vegetables