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Open Access Research

Food expenditure patterns in the Canadian Arctic show cause for concern for obesity and chronic disease

Mohammadreza Pakseresht1, Rosalyn Lang2, Stacey Rittmueller1, Cindy Roache1, Tony Sheehy3, Malek Batal4, Andre Corriveau5 and Sangita Sharma16*

Author Affiliations

1 Aboriginal and Global Health Research Group, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, 5–10 University Terrace, Edmonton, AB T6G 2 T4, Canada

2 North Carolina A&T State University, Department of Biology, African Americans & Alzheimer's Disease Research Study, 2105 Yanceyville Building, Greensboro, NC, 27410, USA

3 School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

4 Département de nutrition, Faculté de medicine, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3 J7, Canada

5 The Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services, Yellowknife, NT, X1A 2 L9, Canada

6 Present address: Aboriginal and Global Health Research Group, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, 5-10 University Terrace, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2 T4, Canada

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:51  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-51

Published: 17 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Little is understood about the economic factors that have influenced the nutrition transition from traditional to store-bought foods that are typically high in fat and sugar amongst people living in the Canadian Arctic. This study aims to determine the pattern of household food expenditure in the Canadian Arctic.

Method

Local food prices were collected over 12 months in six communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Dietary intake data were collected from 441 adults using a validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Money spent on six food groups was calculated along with the cost of energy and selected nutrients per person.

Results

Participants spent approximately 10% of total food expenditure on each of the food groups of fruit/vegetables, grains and potatoes, and dairy, 17% on traditional meats (e.g. caribou, goose, char, and seal liver), and 20% on non-traditional meats (e.g. beef, pork, chicken, fish, and processed meats). Non-nutrient-dense foods (NNDF) accounted for 34% of food expenditure. Younger participants (<30 years) spent more on NNDF and less on traditional meats compared with the older age groups. Participants with higher levels of formal education spent more on fruit and vegetables and less on traditional meats, when compared with participants with lower levels of formal education.

Conclusions

Participants spent most household income on NNDF, a possible consequence of generation discrepancy between younger and older participants. The tendency toward NNDF, particularly among youth, should be addressed with an assessment of predictive factors and the development of targeted approaches to population-based interventions.