Objectives: The social and cultural transition among the Inuit in Greenland over the last generations has in ecological studies been linked to changes in cardiovascular risk factors. To permit analyses at the individual level, we propose a categorization of participants in a cross-sectional study according to their relative position in the process of social change.

Methods: Data was included from two cross-sectional population surveys in 1993–1994 (N = 1,580) and 2005–2009 (N = 2,834). Socioeconomic factors, mental health, health behavior, obesity, blood lipids, blood pressure, and prevalence of diabetes were compared between the surveys and among groups at various degree of social change defined from current residence, job, and education. General linear models and logistic regression analysis were applied.

Results: Most outcome variables showed statistically significant difference between the two studies indicating secular change, and for most the gradient in the ranked social groups was in agreement with the observed secular change. This included housing conditions, wealth, diet, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, obesity, and for women also non-HDL cholesterol and hypertension. Anxiety and depression increased over time but decreased with social group for women. Prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased, but we found no differences among social groups. Serum triglyceride and for men non-HDL cholesterol and hypertension showed inconsistent results.

Conclusions: For a majority of the examined cardiovascular risk factors, social population groups defined from cross-sectional data adequately mirror secular change. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.