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High levels of physical activity and obesity co-exist amongst Inuit adults in Arctic Canada

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Abstract Background: 

Existing evidence indicates that Inuit in Arctic Canada are undergoing a lifestyle transition leading to decreased physical activity (PA) and increased body mass index (BMI). Data specific to PA and BMI amongst Inuit in Nunavut, Canada, are currently limited. The present study aimed to characterise current PA and BMI levels in a sample of Inuit adults. Methods: 

Inuit adults randomly selected from a cross-sectional survey of three communities in Nunavut, Canada, completed an adapted International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and an anthropometric survey. Data were analysed by gender and age group using standardised IPAQ protocol. Results: 

Response rates ranged from 69–93%. Two hundred and eighteen Inuit adults [180 women, 38 men; mean (standard deviation (SD)) ages 42.3 (13.0) and 42.4 (14.8) years respectively; age range 19–89 years] completed the IPAQ. All men and 97% of women allowed height and weight measurements; the remainder were self-reported. Mean (SD) BMI was 27.7 (6.3) kg/m2 for males and 30.3 (8.0) kg/m2 for females. The largest proportion of women and participants in both age groups had a BMI in the obese category; males were evenly split between the normal and obese categories. Self-reported PA was high, with most men, women and participants ≤50 years in the high category of PA. Participants >50 years were evenly split across the medium and high categories. Most participants (72%) were classified as being overweight or obese, yet reported medium or high levels of PA (89%). Conclusions: 

The findings obtained in the present study indicate the co-existence of high BMI and high self-reported PA amongst Inuit adults.
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Keywords: Arctic; Inuit; chronic disease; obesity; physical activity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Nutrition Research Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kannapolis, NC, USA 2: Affiliation at the time of research: Department of Health and Social Services, Government of Nunavut, Iqaluit, NU, Canada 3: Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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