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R1: Norton Sound

38

8

R2: Tanana Chiefs

26

1

R3: Yukon-Kuskokwim

55

13

R4: Bristol Bay

61

24

R5: South East

39

12

R1: Norton Sound

2954

1539

R2: Tanana Chiefs

195

18

R3: Yukon-Kuskokwim

2814

699

R4: Bristol Bay

3420

1138

R5: South East

1100

303

Fish Consumption Advice for Alaskans

*Data from Reference 21

Maximum Rate

The Alaska Traditional Diet Survey data can be simplified by combining all the fish into two categories— salmon and non-salmon (Table 6).

Table 6. Summary of Fish Consumption Rates in 5 Tribal Health Corporation Regions of Alaska (Pounds per Year)* Median Rate

Region

Salm

on

Non-salmon

In contrast to fish consumption rates among rural subsistence consumers, fish consumption rates among urban Alaskans and non-subsistence consumers have not been well characterized. Risk managers need to learn more about seafood consumption in urban centers in Alaska, including an assessment of the types, quantity, and mercury content of seafood consumed from sources outside Alaska.

Nutrition-related Disease Rates and Trends in Alaska In communities that rely heavily on subsistence fish harvests—the majority of which are populated by Alaska Native people—traditional foods provide more than a food source. Subsistence is often a cultural cornerstone, providing spiritual, nutritional, medicinal, and economic well being.22 Subsistence activities connect community members through work and through sharing, and provide a thread of cultural continuity from generation to generation. Therefore, any advice to limit traditional food consumption must be well- justified.

Unfortunately, the social and cultural disruption associated with food consumption advisories can have profound effects on the health and well-being of subsistence communities. For example, changes in diet, lifestyle, and the social and cultural disruption that follows alterations in subsistence traditions can contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, such as increases in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, violence, alcoholism and drug abuse.23,24 Indigenous peoples in Canada have viewed chronic diseases as resulting from moving away from country (traditional) food and taking on the “white man’s diet.”25 This information indicates the importance of monitoring trends of nutritionally-related disease prevalence among subsistence communities to understand the potential health impacts of dietary changes.

DPH recognizes that fish consumption advisories may adversely affect all residents of subsistence communities. However, no easily accessible methodology exists to stratify populations based on their reliance on subsistence food. Because the majority of subsistence users in Alaska are Alaska Native people, as a rough proxy we compare outcomes among Alaska Native versus non-Native people. Increasing non- traditional food consumption and sedentary lifestyles among Alaska Native people have been associated with increasing chronic disease prevalence, including an increase in hypertension, glucose intolerance, and diabetes. 26-28

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