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Healthy food intentions and higher socioeconomic status are associated with healthier food choices in an Inuit population

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Abstract Background: 

Changing food behaviours amongst Canadian Inuit may contribute to rising chronic disease prevalence, and research is needed to develop nutritional behaviour change programmes. The present study examined patterns of food acquisition and preparation behaviours amongst Inuit adults in Nunavut and associations with psychosocial and socioeconomic factors. Methods: 

Developed from behavioural theories and community workshops, Adult Impact Questionnaires were conducted with adult Inuit (≥19 years) from randomly selected households in three remote communities in Nunavut, Canada, to determine patterns of healthy food knowledge, self-efficacy and intentions, frequencies of healthy and unhealthy food acquisition and healthiness of preparation methods. Associations between these constructs with demographic and socioeconomic factors were analysed using multivariate linear regressions. Results: 

Amongst 266 participants [mean (SD) age 41.2 (13.6) years; response rates 69–93%], non-nutrient-dense foods were acquired a mean (SD) of 2.9 (2.3) times more frequently than nutrient-dense, and/or low sugar/fat foods. Participants tended to use preparation methods that add fat. Intentions to perform healthy dietary behaviours was inversely correlated with unhealthy food acquisition (β = −0.25, P < 0.001), and positively associated with healthy food acquisition (β = 0.22, P < 0.001) and healthiness of preparation methods (β = 0.15, P = 0.012). Greater healthy food knowledge and self-efficacy were associated with intentions (β = 0.21, P = 0.003 and β = 0.55, P < 0.001, respectively). Self-efficacy was associated with healthier preparation (β = 0.14, P = 0.025) and less unhealthy food acquisition (β = −0.27, P < 0.001), whilst knowledge was associated with acquiring healthy foods (β = 0.13, P = 0.035). Socioeconomic status was positively associated with healthy preparation and food acquisition behaviours. Conclusions: 

Interventions to improve diet in Nunavut Inuit should target healthy food intentions, knowledge and self-efficacy. Behaviour change strategies emphasising economic benefits of a healthy diet should be employed to target individuals of low socioeconomic status.

Keywords: Arctic; Inuit; dietary behaviours; food knowledge; healthy food intentions; healthy food self-efficacy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Nutrition Research Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kannapolis, NC, USA 2: Center for Human Nutrition, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA 3: Affiliation at the time of research: Department of Health and Social Services, Government of Nunavut, Iqaluit, NU, Canada 4: Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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