IAB Research Project Description

Developing a novel set of diet pattern biomarkers, based on stable isotope ratios (Negem Nallunailkutaa)

This project was one of four funded within the Center for Alaska Native Health Research II COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) Grant: "Investigating Obesity and Chronic Disease-Related Risk Factors of Alaska Natives."  Gerald Mohatt and Bert Boyer were the COBRE principal investigators.   

Diet is key to understanding health in native communities, but assessing diet is difficult as existing methods are imprecise. This specific project developed objective, precise measures of diet based on naturally occurring stable isotope ratios, which are distinct in different foods and can be easily measured in blood or hair samples. The project tested several potential biomarkers of diet against high quality dietary intake data collected between 2008 and 2010 in two YK Delta communities. We found very strong isotopic markers for traditional marine food intake and intake of sweeteners, including sugar-sweetened beverages. We and others are now using those markers to demonstrate the health effects of traditional marine food and sugars intake in the CANHR study population of 1500  people. These new stable isotope measures of diet are also being used as tools for designing health interventions in that population

Project Funding

NIH, National Center for Research Resources
1 Jul 2007 – 30 Jun 2012
IAB Project #238

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Information Officer
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I Bldg.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907-474-7412