Center for Alaska Native Health Research
Institute of Arctic Biology
205 Arctic Health Research Building


Phone: 907-474-5528

1-888-470-5576 toll-free within Alaska 

Fax: 907-474-5700

Cultural Adaptation of an Intervention to Reduce Body Weight in Yup’ik Women

Project location: Two rural communities in southwest Alaska

Category: Obesity and Intervention Research

The traditional diet of Yup'ik people living Southwest Alaska is rich in marine mammals, fish, and other subsistence foods that are part of an active "hunting and gathering" lifestyle. However, their diet is transitioning to increased consumption of highly processed market foods along with a shift to a more sedentary lifestyle. Overweight and obesity prevalence among Yup'ik women now mirrors that of the general U.S. population. Women in our study communities are aware of the relationships between body weight, diet, physical activity, and disease risk, and have prioritized intervention research that will lead to weight reduction.

Dried SalmonThe overall goal of this project is to culturally adapt an evidence-based intervention designed to decrease body weight and improve the health of Yup'ik women by promoting healthy eating and increased physical activity. We conducted focus groups in two communities to determine the feasibility of the "home health party" model for risk reduction intervention led by trained "lay health workers" in the community. We also conducted key informant interviews to explore environmental factors that may be related to healthy food choices and physical activity.

A Community Planning Group of six Yup'ik women serve as co-researchers in the cultural adaptation and pilot testing of this intervention. Together, we developed educational modules on healthy food choices and physical activity, then pilot tested these modules in both communities to assess cultural appropriateness and utility.

This study builds on CANHR's central research theme focused on the genetic, behavioral, and nutritional risk and protective factors for obesity and related metabolic disorders and is responsive to the research priorities identified by our community partners.

CANHR Project Staff: Scarlett Hopkins, Eliza Orr, and Bert Boyer

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Staff: Beti Thompson

Funded by: NIH NIGMS P30GM103325