In the early 1970′s, Danish scientists published a study that claimed Inuits in Greenland have low rates of heart disease due their diet, high in fish oils, whale blubber, and omega-3 fatty acids. That study set off a global trend that has reached billions of dollars in annual sales of fish oil supplements.
Over 40 years later, it turns out that all this may have been a mistake. Apparently, the Inuit, and other northerly populations relying on fish diets, do not have lower rates of heart disease. Canadian researchers published a new study, “Fishing” for the origins of the “Eskimos and heart disease” story. Facts or wishful thinking?, where they show that the Inuit actually have heart disease at twice the rate as non-Inuit Greenlanders.
How did such a mistake happen? The original research team in the 1970′s relied on faulty data. The information about disease and mortality among the Inuits in Greenland back then was not properly recorded and collected, creating a warped snapshot of that population’s health.