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Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks
an economic necessity. Asian American and Pacific Island groups consume greater amounts, different types, and different parts of seafood than the general population (Sechena et al., 2003).
A large population of Laotian immigrants (Hmong) who settled in Wisconsin have been studied to determine how their fishing and seafood consumption habits differ from those of the general US population. Hutchison and Kraft (1994) found that individuals in Hmong households in Green Bay, Wisconsin, consumed an average of 30 fish meals per year compared to 18 fish meals per year consumed by Wisconsin anglers in the general population. About one-third of the fish caught were reported to come from lakes where fishing advisories warned against eating locally caught fish, suggesting that this group is at greater risk from exposure to contaminants in fish than the general population.
Some members of the Asian American population have undergone acculturation resulting in food choices that are more similar to those of the general US population than population groups from their country of origin (Kudo et al., 2000; Kim and Chan, 2004). Kudo et al. (2000) studied the eating patterns of Japanese immigrants and their US-born descendants. Their findings show dietary changes among succeeding generations of Japanese American females, and suggest that acculturation-related changes may contribute to decreased intake of many traditional foods, including fish.
American Indian/Alaskan Native and First Nations Populations
Many indigenous peoples, particularly those who live in Alaska and northern Canada, maintain a subsistence life-style and diet. The dietary practices of these populations are an important part of their self-definition, culture, health, and well-being, as well as a part of the socioeconomic structure of their communities.
A survey of coastal First Nations communities in British Columbia indicated that, although traditional dietary patterns have changed considerably since the introduction of Europeans to the Americas, seafood and other marine food sources remain an important part of the culture and nutritional resources of this population group (Mos et al., 2004). The survey showed that fishing and gathering of seafood was practiced regularly among 46 percent of respondents and that traditional methods were used 94 percent of the time. Among the types of seafood consumed by First Nations communities, salmon was the most popular; 95 percent of respondents reported consuming salmon each year and an average of 42 percent of all seafood meals consisted of salmon.
Availability of data on seafood consumption practices among Alaskan Natives and other Northern Dwellers is limited. Further, traditional foods that are consumed in Alaska vary by region, local preference, and