Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic August 09, 2012 - 3:09 pm

Nunavut, Nunavik kids fatter and shorter than Greenlandic kids: survey

Researchers share info at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health in Fairbanks, Alaska

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Kids in Nuuk are slimmer and taller than kids in Nunavut, Nunavik or other parts of Greenland. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
Kids in Nuuk are slimmer and taller than kids in Nunavut, Nunavik or other parts of Greenland. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

Kids in Nunavut and Nunavik are fatter and shorter than their counterparts in Greenland.

These findings from the Inuit health survey health surfaced this week during a presentation at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health in Fairbanks, Alaska.

For their study, researchers with McGill University, Greenland Institute of Health Research, Laval University and the University of Toronto looked at 1,121 Inuit children (554 boys and 567 girls), aged three to five, living in Nunavut and Nunavik and Greenland.

They found Greenland Inuit children were “significantly taller than their Canadian counterparts, with greatest height and weight observed among children from Nuuk.”

But they found there was more obesity among Canadian Inuit children than their Greenlandic counterparts.

The researchers concluded that the differences in height between Canadian and Greenlandic samples “likely reflects” differences in both genetic backgrounds and socio-economic status.

Obesity was high among both Canadian and Greenland Inuit preschoolers.

But children living in Nuuk had lower obesity levels than children living in Nunavut, Nunavik and Greenland’s towns and villages.

The researchers say this could reflect varying degrees of food security in remote locations as well as issues such as “stature and sitting height which have not been well-studied in young Inuit children.”

Among the other results from the 2007-08 Qanuppitali health survey in Nunavut reported on at the meeting: a survey of 249 women in Nunavut which showed that four in 10 need folic acid, which can prevent many serious birth defects.

The researchers evaluated whether red blood cell levels of folic acid of Inuit women of childbearing years was sufficient to reach to prevent those birth defects.

They also investigated whether food security, smoking status, and body weight influenced their results.

Their findings, summarized in an abstract, suggest that the current levels of folic acid are “insufficient to overcome effects of food insecurity and cigarette smoking,” which have an impact on folic acid levels.

The conference is taking at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from Aug. 5 to Aug. 10.

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