Increasing consumption of non-nutrient-dense foods (NNDF), decreasing consumption of traditional foods (TF) and low consumption of fruit and vegetables (FV) may contribute to increasing chronic disease rates amongst Inuit. The present study aimed to assess the daily frequency and socioeconomic and demographic factors influencing consumption of TF, FV and NNDF amongst Inuit adults in Nunavut, Canada.
Using a cross-sectional study design and random household sampling in three communities in Nunavut, a food frequency questionnaire developed for the population was used to assess frequency of NNDF, TF and FV consumption amongst Inuit adults. Socioeconomic status (SES) was assessed by education level, ownership of items in working condition, and whether or not people in the household were employed or on income support. Mean frequencies of daily consumption were compared across gender and age groups, and associations with socioeconomic indicators were analysed using logistic regression.
Two hundred and eleven participants (36 men, 175 women; mean (standard deviation) ages 42.1 (15.0) and 42.2 (13.2) years, respectively; response rate 69-93%) completed the study. Mean frequencies of consumption for NNDF, TF and FV were 6.3, 1.9 and 1.6 times per day, respectively. On average, participants =50 years consumed NNDF (P=0.003) and FV (P=0.01) more frequently and TF (P=0.01) less frequently than participants >50 years. Education was positively associated with FV consumption and negatively associated with TF consumption. Households on income support were more likely to consume TF and NNDF.
These results support the hypothesis that the nutrition transition taking place amongst Inuit in Nunavut results in elevated consumption of NNDF compared with TF and FV.