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Sugar intolerance – a special Arctic gene

Intolerance to sucrose (ordinary sugar) is generally rare, but is a common one in Greenland and other Inuit populations. This is due to a gene variant that results in not being able to digest sucrose as well as starch, which is not part of the traditional diet. It has been found that Greenlanders who carry this gene variant are leaner and have lower lipid levels. It also suggests that the variant protects against cardiovascular disease. We think it's because people who carry the variant, metabolize carbohydrate differently have a different composition of gut bacteria that ferment the carbohydrates the body can't absorb. A mouse study also showed that the gene variant may change food preferences.

We are therefore investigating whether changes in carbohydrate metabolism and in gut bacteria can explain why people with this gene variant are healthier. In addition, we want to investigate whether their food and taste preferences are different.