Eating less seafood
The consumption of seafood among the indigenous Arctic population Nenets in Russia has dropped significantly, a new doctoral degree shows.
Research Fellow Natalia Petrenya has compared residents of the Russian city Arkhangelsk with residents of the indigenous Nenets who live in rural areas in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The main focus of the study was to find out what effect changing food habits and lifestyle have on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in the country.
These diseases affect many Russians. While the number of deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases has dropped in Western Europe, North America and Japan over the past decades, the proportion has increased in Russia. However, the proportion is lower among some sections of the population, which has been put down to high seafood consumption in these sections of the population.
The study shows that the consumption of seafood among the indigenous Nenets was unexpectedly low, especially in comparison with studies from the Soviet era. This can in part be explained by low income and the preference of other cheaper foods. The Nenets have traditionally had a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids from white fish and reindeer meat.
The study also demonstrated increased levels of obesity among women and high tobacco consumption among men in both groups.
No differences were observed in the levels of the proteins ApoA and ApoB in the blood of the test subjects in the two areas. These proteins are used as indicators of the danger zone for developing cardiovascular diseases.
“However, a generally lower level of cholesterol was observed among the Nenets, which may be explained by higher levels of physical activity among men and lower consumption of saturated fat from meat among the women than in Arkhangelsk,” says Natalia Petrenya. “But an increased proportion of obesity will in all likelihood lead to more Nenets being affected by diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the years ahead.”
The study that formed the basis of the doctoral degree was a collaborative project between Nofima, the University of Tromsø and the University of Arkhangelsk. It was financed by Sparebank1 Nord-Norge, Troms County Council and Nofima.
Natalia Petrenya was born in Arkhangelsk in Russia in 1974. She was educated as a doctor at the Northern State Medical University in Arkhangelsk. She has lived in Tromsø since 2007 and is particularly interested in studying which lifestyle and environmental factors influence human health.