Dietary nutrient profiles of Canadian Baffin Island Inuit differ by food source, season, and age

J Am Diet Assoc. 1996 Feb;96(2):155-62. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00045-4.


Objective: To compare the effect of food source (traditional or market), season (six seasons), and age (five age groups) on dietary nutrient patterns of Inuit living in Baffin Island, Canada.

Design: Twenty-four-hour recall interviews of all residents who had lived > or = 3 years in this one community in each of six seasons. Foods that were recalled were divided by source.

Setting/subjects: The study took place in the Inuit community of Qikiqtarjuaq, which harvests the highest quantity of wildlife per capita of all Baffin communities. Three hundred sixty-six residents contributed a total of 1,410 recalls: 401 from nonpregnant, nonlactating adult women, 74 from pregnant women, 301 from adult men, 451 from children aged 3 to 12 years, and 183 from teenagers aged 13 to 19 years. Participation was voluntary and averaged 65% to 75% of residents.

Main outcome measures: Energy, total dry weight of food, and dietary nutrients (ie, carbohydrate, protein, total fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, vitamin A, iron, copper, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium) were measured by food source, season, and age. Nutrient density (nutrient per 1,000 kcal) was calculated in traditional and market food sources. Selected nutrients were computed in total diets, and compared with Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).

Statistical analyses performed: Tests for normality of the distribution of nutrient intakes (ie, Shapiro-Wilk statistic) were performed followed by nonparametric analyses (ie, Wilcoxon paired-sample t test, Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance, and adjustment for Bonferroni inequalities resulting from multiple comparisons).

Results: Most nutrient intakes were significantly different by food source (P < .05). Traditional food contributed more protein, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and vitamin A for several age groups. Market food contributed greater amounts of dry weight, energy, fat, carbohydrate, calcium, and sodium for most age groups. Seasonal variation (P < .05) existed for nutrients coming from traditional and market food. Of the 10 nutrients assessed for nutrient density, all except calcium and sodium were present in greater amounts in traditional food than in market food (P < .05). Calcium and vitamin A intakes fell below 66.6% of the RDAs for more than 60% of the population.

Conclusions: The comprehensive view of nutrient profiles, food source, and seasonality of Inuit diets will assist health professionals in developing nutrition promotion and education programs for all age groups of this population. Traditional food is an essential source of the total annual dietary nutrient intake of Inuit. Results indicated, however, that calcium and vitamin A intake must be improved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Inuit*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Northwest Territories
  • Pregnancy
  • Seasons