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Obesity Hits Siberian Tribes for the First Time; Blame it on Instant Noodles

Feb 27, 2017 10:24 AM EST

Researchers have noted the first signs of obesity in the native ethnic groups in the Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, the epidemic hit the Nenets and Khanty people in the northern Siberia after carb-heavy foods such as instant noodles and bread were introduced in their diet.

Dr. Andrey Lobanov notes that being nomadic herders, they often pass villages on their pasture routes. These people had learned to buy "instant" food as they pass through these modern villages.

"It never happened before that the small local indigenous peoples of the north suffered from obesity. It is a nonsensical modern problem. Now even a predisposition to obesity is being noticed.," Alexey Titovsky, regional director for science and innovation told Siberian Times.

Titovsky added that there has been a considerable change in the tribes' diet through the years. For instance, those living in the tundra have been exposed to chemically processed food.

Another factor that contributes to their obesity is that they are traveling in a shorter distance, meaning fewer calories are burned. Traditionally, these nomadic tribes herd their reindeers through the Yamal tundra -- a 700-kilometer-long peninsula that stretches deep into the Arctic Ocean.

Daily Mail notes that now, most of the herders are choosing to stay closer to energy company facilities utilized by Russians. Instead of going far to sell meat, they go to the nearby facilities to sell their meat to workers.

New York Post reported that the Nenets and Khanty tribes traditionally eat a diet of venison and fresh fish, which provides them with nutrients necessary to withstand the climactic condition of the Arctic.

Now their diet has changed. Their intake of venison and river fish is cut by half and they are more likely to eat carb-rich food from the villages rather than their traditional meal. Although these foods are easy to transport, it does not provide the necessary nutrients that they need.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that the observations have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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