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March 25, 1974

Diabetes in Eskimos

Author Affiliations

Alaska Native Medical Center Anchorage, Alaska

JAMA. 1974;227(12):1383. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230250015014

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To the Editor.—  Diabetes mellitus is rare in Alaskan natives (Bering Sea coastal Eskimos, Arctic Ocean coastal Eskimos, Athabascan Indians, and Aleuts). Mouratoff and Scott's report (226:1345, 1973) suggests that the Eskimos' high glucose tolerance may be associated with physical exertion rather than a genetic origin. I would suggest that the data as presented are also consistent with a genetic origin.Routine inquiry to my patients concerning family history of diabetes also includes an assessment of racial background. Most of the diabetic Alaskan natives that I have encountered have European or Russian ancestors, and often the patient can identify these forebearers as also being diabetics!Like Mouratoff and Scott, I have seen very few Alaskan natives with diabetes; I have seen no full-blooded Alaskan natives with childhood-onset, insulin-dependent diabetes. If their conclusion were correct that physical activity and fitness are important factors in the prevention of clinical diabetes, the white