For indigenous Arctic Canadians, traditional food consumption represents a key source of nutrients and environmental contaminants. Particularly, ingestion of marine mammal blubber and meat may lead to persistent organic pollutant levels and mercury intakes that exceed regulatory thresholds for sensitive populations. We investigated whether temporary adjustments to the consumption of traditional food derived from marine mammals appreciably impacted contaminant exposure and nutrient intakes among indigenous women of childbearing age. Such adjustments can be motivated by the desire to lower contaminant exposure or to increase nutrition, or by the diminishing availability of other traditional food sources. We combined the contaminant fate and transport model GloboPOP with the food chain bioaccumulation model ACC-Human Arctic to simulate polychlorinated biphenyl exposures in female 2007-08 Inuit Health Survey participants. We also calculated daily mercury and nutrient intake rates. Our results suggest that a temporary decrease in marine mammal consumption is largely ineffective at reducing exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, because of their long elimination half-lives. In contrast, substitution of marine mammals was highly efficient at reducing mercury intake, but also appreciably lowered intakes of iron, manganese, selenium, and ?-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The impact of increasing intake of traditional food derived from marine mammals during childbearing age greatly depended on baseline consumption rates; replacement is ill-advised for those who already consume a lot of traditional food due to greater polychlorinated biphenyl and mercury exposures, while replacement was potentially beneficial for those with very limited marine mammal consumption due to increased nutrient intakes. Our calculations primarily suggest that considering baseline traditional food intake rates is critical to devising reproductive dietary adjustment strategies that maximize nutrient intake while minimizing environmental contaminant exposure.
We previously studied the association between fish consumption and prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Manitoba and Ontario First Nations (FNs), Canada and found different results. In this study, we used a difference in difference model to analyze the data. Dietary and health data from the First Nations Food Nutrition and Environment Study, a cross-sectional study of 706 Manitoba and 1429 Ontario FNs were analyzed. The consumption of fish was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire. Fish samples were analyzed for dichloro diphenyldichloro ethylene (DDE) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) content. Difference in difference model results showed that persistent organic pollutant (POP) exposure was positively associated with T2D in a dose-response manner. Stronger positive associations were found among females (OR = 14.96 (3.72-60.11)) than in males (OR = 2.85 (1.14-8.04)). The breakpoints for DDE and PCB intake were 2.11 ng/kg/day and 1.47 ng/kg/day, respectively. Each further 1 ng/kg/day increase in DDE and PCB intake increased the risk of T2D with ORs 2.29 (1.26-4.17) and 1.44 (1.09-1.89), respectively. Our findings suggest that the balance of risk and benefits associated with fish consumption is highly dependent on the regional POP concentrations in fish.
Cites: Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Nov;124(11):1694-1699 PMID 27203433
To describe seafood consumption patterns in First Nations (FN) in British Columbia (BC) and examine lifestyle characteristics associated with seafood consumption; to identify the top ten most consumed seafood species and their contributions to EPA and DHA intake; and to estimate dietary exposure to methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene.
Dietary and lifestyle data from the First Nations Food Nutrition and Environment Study, a cross-sectional study of 1103 FN living in twenty-one communities across eight ecozones in BC, Canada, were analysed. Seafood consumption was estimated using a traditional FFQ. Seafood samples were analysed for contaminant contents.
Seafood consumption patterns varied significantly across BC ecozones reflecting geographical diversity of seafood species. The top ten most consumed species represented 64 % of total seafood consumption by weight and contributed 69 % to the total EPA+DHA intake. Mean EPA+DHA intake was 660·5 mg/d in males, 404·3 mg/d in females; and 28 % of FN met the Recommended Intake (RI) of 500 mg/d. Salmon was the most preferred species. Seafood consumption was associated with higher fruit and vegetable consumption, lower smoking rate and increased physical activity. Dietary exposure to selected contaminants from seafood was negligible.
In FN in BC, seafood continues to be an essential part of the contemporary diet. Seafood contributed significantly to reaching the RI for EPA+DHA and was associated with a healthier lifestyle. Given numerous health benefits, seafood should be promoted in FN. Efforts towards sustainability of fishing should be directed to maintain and improve access to fisheries for FN.
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) has been fundamental to the diet and culture of Arctic Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years. Although caribou populations observe natural cycles of abundance and scarcity, several caribou herds across the Circumpolar North have experienced dramatic declines in recent decades due to a range of interrelated factors. Broadly, the objectives of this study are to examine food and nutrition security in relation to wildlife population and management status across Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homeland, consisting of four regions across the Canadian Arctic). Specifically, we: (1) characterize the contribution of caribou to Inuit nutrition across northern Canada and (2) evaluate the population and management status of caribou herds/populations harvested by Inuit. Dietary data were derived from the 2007-2008 Inuit Health Survey, which included dietary information for Inuit adults (n?=?2097) residing in thirty-six communities, spanning three regions (the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, and Nunatsiavut) of the Canadian North. Published information regarding the range, abundance, status, and management status of caribou herds/populations was collected through document analysis and was validated through consultation with northern wildlife experts (territorial governments, co-management, and/or Inuit organizations). While caribou contributed modestly to total diet energy (3-11% of intake) across the regions, it was the primary source of iron (14-37%), zinc (18-41%), copper (12-39%), riboflavin (15-39%), and vitamin B12 (27-52%), as well as a top source of protein (13-35%). Restrictions on Inuit subsistence harvest (harvest quotas or bans) are currently enacted on at least six northern caribou herds/populations with potential consequences for country food access for over twenty-five Inuit communities across Canada. A holistic multi-sectorial approach is needed to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations, while supporting Inuit food and nutrition security in the interim.
Indigenous peoples have elevated risk of lead (Pb) exposure as hunted traditional food can be contaminated with lead-containing ammunition. Recent scientific consensus states that there is no threshold level for Pb exposure. The objective of this study was to estimate dietary exposure to Pb among First Nations living on-reserve in the province of Ontario, Canada. A total diet study was constructed based on a 24-h recall and Pb concentrations for traditional foods from the First Nations Food, Nutrition, and Environment Study (FNFNES) and Pb concentrations in market foods from Health Canada. A probabilistic assessment of annual and seasonal traditional food consumption was conducted. Results indicate that traditional foods, particularly moose and deer meat. are the primary source of dietary Pb intake (73%), despite providing only 1.8% of the average caloric intake. The average dietary Pb exposure (0.21µg/kg/d) in the First Nations population in Ontario was 1.7 times higher than the dietary Pb exposure in the general Canadian population. Pb intake was associated with an estimated average increase in systolic blood pressure of 1.2mmHg. These results indicate that consumption of foods hunted with Pb containing ammunition and shot puts the population at elevated risk of Pb toxicity.
Inuit in Canada have high selenium intake from the consumption of country food such as fish and marine mammals. The health consequence is not known. This study examines the association between blood selenium concentration and prevalence of stroke among Canadian Inuit. The International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey was conducted in 2007-2008. Among the 2077 adults participants (=18years old) who completed a questionnaire and gave blood samples, 49 stroke cases were reported, 31 of which were from women. The crude prevalence of stroke was 2.4% in the participants. Participants with stroke had lower blood selenium (geometric mean: 260µg/L vs. 319µg/L) and dietary selenium (144µg/day vs. 190µg/day) compared to individuals without stroke. Participants with high blood/dietary selenium exposure (quartiles 3 and 4) had a lower prevalence of stroke compared to those with low selenium exposure (quartile 1). The adjusted odds ratio ranged from 0.09 to 0.25 among subgroups (e.g. age, sex, and blood mercury). An L-shaped relationship between prevalence of stroke with blood and dietary selenium was observed, based on the cubic restricted spline and segmented regression analyses. The estimated turning points of the L-shaped curve for blood selenium and dietary selenium were 450µg/L and 350µg/day, respectively. Below the turning points, it was estimated that each 50-µg/L increase in blood selenium was associated with a 38% reduction in the prevalence of stroke, and each 50-µg/day increase in dietary selenium was associated with a 30% reduction in the prevalence of stroke. In conclusion, blood and dietary selenium are reversely associated with the prevalence of stroke in Inuit, which follows an L-shaped relationship. Whether this relationship applies to other population needs further investigation.
This review summarizes aspects of the 2017 Canadian Nutrition Society symposium, "Modelling diets for quality and cost: examples from Inuit and First Nations in Canada". Indigenous peoples in Canada experience a high prevalence of nutrition-related chronic disease due to the poor quality and high cost of their food supply. Since European colonisation, they have transitioned from a diet of minimally processed traditional foods (game, fish and plants) procured using pursuits such as hunting, fishing, gathering, and horticulture to a diet comprised mostly of processed market foods. This nutrition transition is the result of factors such as colonial policies and practices; climate change; environmental degradation; contaminants in traditional foods; and limited availability of, or access to, economical and healthful market foods. Presenters Malek Batal and Laurie Chan characterized the contemporary diets of First Nations and Inuit populations and demonstrated novel methods for modelling more optimal diets using two datasets: the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study and the Inuit Health Survey. It was demonstrated how the NOVA classification characterized the portion of the diet consisting of processed foods. Dietary components were then manipulated to reduce ultra-processed food and drink intake to increase the Healthy Eating Index score. Linear programming was explained as a way to mathematically design theoretical diets that aim to optimize food cost, nutrition quality, and contaminant level of traditional foods. While diet-modelling methodologies have limitations, they provide a basis for engaging Indigenous peoples and governments to develop nutrition goals and policies anchored in contemporary food realities.
It is generally believed that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is rare in the Inuit population because of their traditional marine-based diet, but the evidence is inconsistent.
To describe the cardiovascular health profile of Canadian Inuit, including disease prevalence, risk factors, country food consumption, and contaminant exposure, and compare to that of the general Canadian population.
Cardiovascular outcomes and risk factors were obtained for 2070 Inuit adults aged 20-79 years from the Inuit Health Survey (IHS, 2007-2008) and for 3464 general Canadian adults aged 20-79 years from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, Cycle 1 (CHMS, 2007-2009) and Cycle 3 (2012-2013). Sex- and age-specific (20-39, 40-59, 60-79) estimates are reported. To compare results between the IHS and CHMS, age-standardized estimates were calculated for males and females, using the CHMS as the reference population.
Inuit had higher prevalence of heart attack (3.1% vs. 1.8% females), stroke (2.1% vs. 0.8% males and 2.2% vs. 1.0% females), diabetes (14.6% vs. 9.0% elderly females), obesity (35.8% vs. 24.2% females), and hypertension (12.2% vs. 2.5% young males and 7.5% vs. 2.5% young females). However, Inuit had better blood lipid profile (hyperlipidemia: 29.0% vs. 46.5% males and 28.4% vs. 35.2% females). Metals and persistent organic pollutant exposures were higher among the Inuit compared with general Canadians.
Inuit and the general Canadian population differ in cardiovascular health profiles. Further research is needed to characterize the health transition among Inuit, especially among the youth and female.
We investigated the food types consumed by 3276 First Nations citizens from the First Nations Food Nutrition and Environment Study (FNFNES) living on-reserve in Canada. Data from 24-h dietary recalls were classified into NOVA categories: fresh or minimally processed foods (MPF), processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods (UPF). Individuals were classified as traditional food (TF) eaters if they ate MPF of their First Nations culture. UPF accounted for 54.0% of energy intake; 23% of participants ate TF. Increasing age and household size, living in British Columbia and TF eating were associated with a lower intake of energy from UPF. Eating TF appeared to be protective against intake of UPF.
The pervasive food insecurity and the diet transition away from local, nutrient-rich country foods present a public health challenge among Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic. While environmental factors such as climate change decreased the accessibility and availability of many country food species, new species were introduced into regions where they were previously unavailable. An adaptation such as turning to alternate country food species can be a viable solution to substitute for the nutrients provided by the declined food species. The objective of this study was to estimate the impact on nutrient intake using hypothetical scenarios that current commonly harvested country foods were reduced by 50%, and were replaced with alternate or new species.
Data collected during the 2007-2008 Inuit Health Survey from 36 Canadian Arctic communities spanning Nunavut, the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and Nunatsiavut were used.
A 50% decline in consumption of fish, whale, ringed seals and birds (the food that was reported to be in decline) resulted in a significant decrease in essential nutrient intake. Possible substitute foods were identified but some nutrients such as zinc and especially vitamin D were most often found lacking in the alternative diet.
If the alternative species are not available or feasible, more expensive and less nutritionally dense store-bought foods may be sought. Given the superior quality of country foods and their association with food security, and Inuit cultural health and personal identity, developing skills and awareness for adaptation, promoting regional sharing networks, forming a co-management agency and continuing nutritional monitoring may potentially preserve the nutritional integrity of Inuit diet, and in turn their health and cultural survival.
Cites: Int J Circumpolar Health. 2006 Dec;65(5):403-15 PMID 17319085