High fish consumption seems to protect obese Eskimos


by KING 5 HealthLink


Posted on March 25, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

In a remote corner of southwest Alaska, the local Eskimo population could hold the key to preventing diabetes and heart disease. What may surprise you is that most of the study participants do not fit our view of what's a healthy weight.

Seventy percent of the Yup'ik Eskimos in the study were overweight or obese.

Diet seems to make the difference.

"They have very high intakes of fish and other marine foods, so their intakes of these omega-3 fats is very high -- 20 times that of what you would find in the U.S. overall, " said Fred Hutchinson researcher, Zeina Makhoul.

Yes, 20 times higher intake of omega-3's.

Perhaps because of all that fish consumption, Fred Hutchinson researchers found that this population does not have some of the risk factors normally associated with obesity.

"Specifically blood triglyceride levels, which is the major form of body fat and also C-reactive protein, which is a protein found in blood that indicates overall body inflammation," Makhoul said.

So does that mean you should you load up on fish oil supplements? Not so fast. Makhoul cautioned that more studies need to be done to find out if there's something else going on with the Yup'iks.

"They have a pretty unique lifestyle and of course genetics could play a role," she said.

It's still a good idea to follow the American Heart Association recommendations and include more fish in your diet, at least two servings a week.

The study is published in the current on-line edition of the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.