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Int J Circumpolar Health. 1999 Apr;58(2):108-19.

Diabetes is related to fatty acid imbalance in Eskimos.

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Alaska Siberia Medical Research Program and Institute of Marine Science, University of Alaska, USA.


The reasons for the rapidly increasing prevalence of diabetes (NIDDM) among Alaskan Eskimos are only partly understood. This study examines the association of fatty acid metabolism in 68 Alaskan Eskimos with NIDDM or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and 386 with normal glucose tolerance > 24 years old. The prevalence of NIDDM was 12% and IGT was 18% in those > 54 years of age and in those < 55 years of age was 3.7% and 3.0%, respectively. Those with abnormal glucose tolerance had lower concentrations of some omega-3 fatty acids (FAs 18:3 omega-3, 20:5 omega-3) and some omega-6 FAs (18:3 omega-6, 20:3 omega-6, 22:4 omega-6) and higher concentrations of palmitic acid (16:0) and oleic acid (18:1 omega-9) than the normo-glycemic participants. These data provide evidence that glucose intolerance and insulin resistance are associated with a deviation from a traditional diet of fish and marine mammals (high in omega-3 FAs and low in saturated fats) to commercial foods (low in omega-3 FAs and high in saturated fats). The low plasma concentrations of the long-chain omega-6 FAs in the glucose impaired may reflect a defect in desaturase activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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