Skip the Tail on Turkey Day

Turkey tail gland is filled with fat and cholesterol and can contribute to obesity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) When you're chowing down on turkey this Thanksgiving, you might want to avoid eating the tail. Some say it's the tastiest part, but it's also the fattiest.

Most people probably don't think about eating a turkey's tail, but one part of it is popular among many Pacific Islander Americans.

They enjoy an oily gland at a turkey's rear that's unfortunately full of fat and cholesterol.

"Don't eat the turkey tail."

The gland's oil is what a turkey uses to preen its feathers, according to Sela Panapasa, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

She recently completed a study looking at the health of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians living in the US, which includes about 1.25 million people – the second fastest growing minority group in the US.

Panapassa found that obesity is one of the biggest health problems occurring among this group, and eating fatty delicacies like that turkey gland aren't helping matters.

"While diet is not the only cause, it is a major contributing factor, " Panapassa said in a release about the study.

The study involved surveying 239 California households in 2011 and 2012, half of whom were Tongans in the San Mateo area. and half of whom were Samoans in the Los Angeles area.

Panapassa and her fellow researchers found that these groups smoke at a rate three to four times higher than other California residents and twice as high as the US rate.

Whereas 20 percent of US residents smoke, 46 percent of these Pacific Islander Americans reported smoking.

Over half of teenagers and over 80 percent of the adults covered in the survey were overweight or obese.

Panapassa found that members of this demographic group were also less likely to practice healthy behaviors like seeing a dentist, getting colonoscopies or mammograms (among the older individuals) or were more likely to drink alcohol or use marijuana (among younger individuals).

Addressing these health issues will require various different approaches, but one way to start working toward reducing obesity is to encourage individuals to eat less fatty foods.

That includes skipping the turkey tail this Thanksgiving.

The study's preliminary findings were presented September 24 and 25 at the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparity & Health Equity Conference in Los Angeles. Information regarding funding and disclosures was unavailable.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 15, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013