This paper reports on the sociocultural determinants of obesity among the Inuit people in the central Canadian Arctic, part of the Keewatin Health Assessment Study (KHAS), a comprehensive community health survey conducted during 1990/91 in eight Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories (n = 434 adults aged 18 yr +). On multivariate analysis, age is an independent predictor of obesity in both sexes. Among Inuit women, non-smoking status and a lower education is associated with various obesity indices. However, smoking is not a predictor in men, and the association with education is the reverse, i.e. the more highly educated are more likely to be obese. In addition, some obesity indices are associated with higher income, an admixed ethnic background, fluency in the Inuit language and less time spent on the land. In general Inuit men tend to show the pattern observed in developing societies, where obesity is more prevalent among those with higher SES status, whereas Inuit women are more characteristic of developed societies, where obesity is associated with a lower SES. The different sex roles in a rapidly modernizing population is most likely to be responsible for this phenomenon.