Using exploratory factor analysis of FFQ data to identify dietary patterns among Yup'ik people

Tove K. Ryman, Melissa A. Austin, Scarlett Hopkins, Jacques Philip, Diane O'Brien, Kenneth Thummel, Bert B. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Abstract Objective An FFQ developed by the Center for Alaska Native Health Research for studies in Yup'ik people includes market foods and subsistence foods such as moose, seal, waterfowl and salmon that may be related to disease risk. Because the FFQ contains >100 food items, we sought to characterize dietary patterns more simply for use in ongoing pharmacogenomics studies. Design Exploratory factor analysis was used to derive a small number of 'factors' that explain a substantial amount of the variation in the Yup'ik diet. We estimated factor scores and measured associations with demographic characteristics and biomarkers. Setting South-west Alaska, USA. Subjects Yup'ik people (n 358) aged ≥18 years. Results We identified three factors that each accounted for ≥10 % of the common variance: the first characterized by 'processed foods' (e.g. salty snacks, sweetened cereals); the second by 'fruits and vegetables' (e.g. fresh citrus, potato salad); and the third by 'subsistence foods' (seal or walrus soup, non-oily fish). Participants from coastal communities had higher values for the 'subsistence' factor, whereas participants from inland communities had higher values for the 'fruits and vegetables' factor. A biomarker of marine intake, δ15N, was correlated with the 'subsistence' factor, whereas a biomarker of corn- and sugarcane-based market food intake, δ13C, was correlated with 'processed foods'. Conclusions The exploratory factor analysis identified three factors that appeared to reflect dietary patterns among Yup'ik based on associations with participant characteristics and biomarkers. These factors will be useful for chronic disease studies in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alaska natives
  • Diet
  • Exploratory factor analysis
  • FFQ
  • Seasonality
  • Traditional foods
  • Yup'ik

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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