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Awareness of chronic disease diagnosis amongst family members is associated with healthy dietary knowledge but not behaviour amongst Inuit in Arctic Canada

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Abstract Background: 

The extent to which awareness of chronic disease (CD) diagnosis affects one’s healthy food knowledge, self-efficacy and intentions or healthy dietary and physical activity (PA) behaviours remains unexplored among Inuit in Canada. Methods: 

A food frequency questionnaire and an adult impact questionnaire were used in a cross-sectional study to collect self-reported data on daily energy and nutrient intake, PA and the diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer amongst adult Inuit and their family members. Associations between awareness of personal and family CD status and healthy food knowledge, self-efficacy and intentions, percentage of energy consumed from non-nutrient-dense foods and PA were assessed via ordinal logistic regression. Results: 

Of the 266 participants, those who self-reported CD for both themselves and their relative(s) were more likely to have high healthy food knowledge [odds ratio (OR) = 2.45] than those who did not. Reporting hypertension and heart disease amongst only relatives increased the likelihood of high knowledge (OR = 5.20) and intentions (OR = 5.10) for healthy eating. Heart disease in both participants and their relatives was associated with high levels of PA (OR = 12.24). However, there were no associations when only participants (but not their relatives) reported having CD. A joint effect between a high level of education and awareness of CD was positively related to high food knowledge (OR = 38.93). An inverse association between awareness of CD and unhealthy eating was not observed. Conclusions: 

Awareness of a relative having a CD was a more important factor in increasing knowledge and, to a lesser degree, self-efficacy or intentions to eat healthy than participants’ awareness of personal CD. However, awareness was not associated with lower non-nutrient-dense food intake.

Keywords: Arctic; Healthy Foods North; Inuit; chronic disease; diet; dietary knowledge

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: Department of Health and Social Services, Government of Nunavut, Iqaluit, NU, Canada 4: Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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