Public Health Nutrition

Special groups

Dietary patterns in Greenland and their relationship with type 2 diabetes mellitus and glucose intolerance

Charlotte Jeppesena1 c1, Peter Bjerregaarda1 and Marit E Jørgensena2

a1 The National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, 2nd floor, 1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark

a2 Steno Diabetes Centre, Gentofte, Denmark


Objective Traditional Inuit dietary patterns have been found to be beneficial for CVD but have not been investigated in relation to glucose intolerance. We examined the association between dietary patterns and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

Design Cross-sectional design with a priori derived dietary patterns from an FFQ resulted in five patterns: imported meat (n 196), traditional food (n 601), balanced diet (n 126), unhealthy diet (n 652) and standard diet (n 799).

Setting Associations between dietary patterns and glucose-related outcomes were tested by linear and logistic regression analyses. Data included: dietary intake by FFQ, waist circumference, ethnicity, frequency of alcohol intake and smoking, physical activity, and oral glucose tolerance test results. Fasting participants and those without diagnosed T2DM were classified into normal glucose tolerance, IGT, IFG or T2DM. HOMA-IR (homeostatic model assessment–insulin resistance index) and HOMA-β (homeostatic model assessment of β-cell function) were calculated.

Subjects Data included 2374 Inuit, aged 18+ years.

Results Participants with a traditional dietary pattern had higher fasting plasma glucose (mean 5·73 (95 % CI 5·68, 5·78) mmol/l, P < 0·0001) and lowest HOMA-β (48·66 (95 % CI 46·86, 50·40), P < 0·0001). The traditional diet gave significantly higher odds for IFG and T2DM than the balanced diet, imported meat diet, standard diet and unhealthy diet.

Conclusions Traditional food was positively associated with T2DM, IFG and fasting plasma glucose, and negatively associated with β-cell function, compared with a standard diet. The imported meat diet seemed the best in relation to glucose intolerance, with lowest fasting plasma glucose and lowest odds for IFG and T2DM.

(Received November 14 2011)

(Revised September 26 2012)

(Accepted December 18 2012)

(Online publication February 11 2013)


  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • Inuit;
  • Dietary patterns;
  • Glucose intolerance


c1 Corresponding author: Email