Document Type



The International Biological Programme collected data on the working capacity and activity patterns of three Eskimo populations (Igloolik, N.W.T.; Northern Alaska; Upernavik, Greenland) and one Ainu group (Hokkaido, Japan). Problems of sampling and test methodology are reviewed. All groups show a short stature, but a rapid secular trend towards increase of standing height. In the relatively acculturated Alaskan Eskimos, skinfold readings have apparently increased since 1963; the other groups remain thin, and total body fat as estimated by deuterium dilution is poorly cor­related with skinfold readings. Strength of the leg muscles and lean body mass was well developed in Igloolik; lean mass was relatively lower at Wainwright, but anaerobic power (stair sprint) was still better than in a White population. In three of the four groups, aerobic power and related measures of work tolerance were much as in the sedentary White population. Figures for the Igloolik population were at least 20% greater, this advantage being particularly marked in men who adhered to the traditional pattern of nomadic hunting. Genetic isolation and the selective effects of disease and starvation may have contributed to this development, but the main responsible factor is thought to be the bursts of intense work and the high total energy demands of traditional hunting. Previous reports of poor working capacity in hunters may reflect the immediate influence of advanced chest disease.