Maria Ines Varela-Silva

Maria Ines Varela-Silva
Loughborough University | Lough · School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

BSc, MSc, PhD FRSA
Human biologist using a biocultural approach to study health and nutrition outcomes among minority groups

About

89
Publications
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Introduction
Dr. Maria Inês Varela-Silva, BSc, MSc, PhD, FHEA Human Biologist Loughborough University (SSEHS) National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM 2.17) LE11 3TU - UK email: M.I.O.Varela-Silva@lboro.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)1509 228164 Twitter: @inesvarelasilva
Additional affiliations
February 2021 - September 2021
FostvedtMills Consulting
Position
  • Consultant
Description
  • Senior academic guiding the review design and perform a supervisory role to the process. Providing subject expertise and experience in systematic reviews. Assist with the publication process.
September 2012 - present
The Maya Project 2012
Position
  • Managing Director
Description
  • A blend of art and academic research portraying the biosocial realities of the Maya in Mesoamerica http://mayaproject.org.uk/ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inesvs/the-maya-project-art-e-book
January 2010 - present
Loughborough University
Position
  • Nutritional dual burden and health implications in a group of Maya from Yucatan, Mexico
Description
  • nutrition dual burden, Maya, intergenerational effects on health
Education
October 2005 - July 2016
University of Michigan
Field of study
  • Biological Anthropology
January 2002 - May 2004
Technical University of Lisbon
Field of study
  • Growth and Development

Publications

Publications (89)
Article
Full-text available
To analyze differences in knee height (KH) between adult Maya mothers and daughters in Merida City, Mexico, and determine if these differences are associated with their childhood socioeconomic conditions. From September 2011 to January 2014, we measured KH and collected data on childhood conditions (place of birth, type of drinking water, family si...
Research
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Poster presented at the 2015 AAPA (American Association of Physical Anthropologists) meetings, St Louis, MO, USA (April 2015)
Article
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Globalization is, in part, an economic force to bring about a closer integration of national economies. Globalization is also a biological, social and ideological process of change. Globalization results in powerful multinational corporations imposing their products on new markets. Food globalization brings about nutritional transitions, the most c...
Article
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This paper focuses on the phenomenon of the nutritional dual-burden in the developing world. Nutritional dual-burden is defined as the coexistence of under-and-over nutrition in the same population/group, the same household/family, or the same person. In this paper we aim: a) to describe the different types of nutritional dual-burden, b) to identif...
Article
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Body mass index (BMI) is used frequently to estimate adiposity levels in children and adults. However, the applicability of BMI to populations with high levels of stunting has been questioned. Stunted people can have disproportionately short legs, which may increase BMI without increasing body fat because of the relatively larger trunk compared wit...
Article
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Early‐life conditions shape childhood growth and are affected by urbanization and the nutritional transition. To investigate how early‐life conditions (across the “first” and “second” 1000 days) are associated with rural and urban children's nutritional status, we analyzed anthropometric data from Maya children in Yucatan, Mexico. We collected weig...
Article
Full-text available
This study analyzes the influence of grandmothers’ household residency on the presence of low height-for-age and excessive fat (FMI = fat mass [kg]/height [m2]), waist circumference, and sum of triceps and subscapular skinfolds in a sample of 247 6- to 8-year-old urban Maya children from Yucatan, Mexico. Between September 2011 and January 2014, we...
Article
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Objective To test the hypothesis that fetal growth, indexed by birth weight (BW), induce metabolic adjustments in the fetus that will be reflected in differences in body composition in a sample of 6‐to 8‐years old urban Maya children from Yucatan, Mexico. Methods We measured height (cm), weight (kg) and triceps skinfold (mm) in 260 children (boys:...
Article
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Background Adrenarche involves maturation of the hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal axis and increased production of dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfate ester, dehydroepiandrosterone‐sulfate (DHEA‐S). It occurs at ages 6 to 8 in industrialized populations, marking the transition from childhood to juvenility and cognitive development at middle childh...
Article
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Objectives: To analyze the relationship of birth weight, birth order, breastfeeding duration, and age of introduction of solid foods with height, fat mass, and fat-free mass in a sample of Maya children when aged 6 to 8 years old. Methods: We collected data on anthropometry, body composition, children's birth weight, birth order, early feeding p...
Chapter
Globalization is an economic force to bring about a closer integration of national economies. Globalization also has effects on human biology. Food globalization brings about Nutritional transition, the most common being a shift from a locally grown diet with minimally refined foods, to the modern diet of highly processed foods, high in saturated F...
Chapter
We critically analyze definitions of Growth stunting and low height-for-age, Height-for-age on the arbitrary cut-off points that classify people dichotomously as “Stunted” or “non-stunted.” We discuss how individuals may be included or excluded in one of such categories, depending on the Standard or references used, and list inherent Health implica...
Chapter
Today a considerable proportion of Yucatecan Maya reside in urban areas, with the city of Merida being a site with a long history of settlement. The Maya bring with them a historical legacy of poverty and abusive treatment during the more than 500 years of European and then Mestizo domination. This chapter discusses, from a human ecology perspectiv...
Article
Aim The aim of this study was to investigate whether the relationship between BMI and vigorous physical activity (VPA) differs when both the overall and regional distribution of subcutaneous adiposity (SA) are considered as alternative fatness indicators of BMI. Methods The sample data were obtained from the third National Health and Nutrition Exa...
Article
Background: Overweight/obesity (OW/OB) coexists in mother-child dyads. However, a dearth of evidence on the factors associated with this phenomenon calls for research. Objective: To analyze the association of sociodemographic factors with OW/OB in a sample of 260 Maya mother-child dyads from Yucatan, Mexico. Methods: During 2011 to 2014, we me...
Article
Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the association between relative leg length (RLL) (leg length × 100/height) and adiposity in a sample of 6- to 8-year-old children of Maya ancestry from Motul and Merida, Mexico. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 260 children (128 girls) measured between 2011 and 2015. The RLL was used a...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The purpose of this study was to analyze the association between birth mode and fat mass index (FMI = fat mass [kg]/height [m]²), and z‐score values of waist circumference (WCZ) and sum of triceps and subscapular skinfolds (SumSkfZ) in a sample of 256 6‐ to 8‐year‐old urban Maya children from the cities of Merida and Motul in Yucatan, Me...
Conference Paper
The aim of this study was to investigate whether the relationship between BMI and vigorous physical activity (VPA) differs when both the overall and regional distribution of subcutaneous adiposity (SA) are considered as alternative fatness indicators of BMI. The sample data were obtained from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Surv...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cardiovascular disease mortality (CVD-mortality) is known to associate with fatness size and shape. However, non-direct fatness measurement such as Body Mass Index (BMI) has been considered as size (overall) of fatness in most previous studies. Therefore, investigations of alternative fatness indicators such as skinfold thickness are required bette...
Article
Full-text available
Human nutritional ecology encompasses the biocultural relationships between people and their food. From a biological perspective, food is central to life because of the essential nutrients it provides, which are needed for growth, repair, and maintenance of the body. From a medical perspective, food is central because of the consequences of diet an...
Article
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Comunicamos resultados centrales de un proyecto multidisciplinario que abordó la corporeidad humana como un producto social, histórico, inmerso en un campo de ejercicio del poder. Nuestros estudios de grupos mayas en Mérida, Yucatán, realizados en los últimos quince años, evidencian las consecuencias a largo plazo de las condiciones de vida en que...
Article
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The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine the associations between various anthropometric adiposity screening indices and body fat percentage estimated by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). A total of 186 (95 male and 91 female) normal weight (body mass index [BMI] = 18.5-24.9 kg/m2) young adults (mean age= 20.96 ± 2.03 years)...
Article
Objectives: To analyze whether living conditions, experienced by mothers and adult daughters during their childhood, are associated with age at menarche (AAM) in daughters. Methods: From September, 2011, to January, 2014, AAM and childhood living conditions were collected from a sample of 246 dyads of Maya mothers (mean age = 59.60 years, SD = 8...
Article
Portugal has one of the highest rates of childhood overweight and obesity in Europe. However, little is known about the health of ethnic minorities living in its capital city, Lisbon. The Cape Verdean community in Lisbon tend to have low educational levels, material deprivation and struggle with discrimination and racism, factors that would probabl...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background & Purpose Previous studies have shown that both size and shape of fatness independently associated with various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and stroke. Due to this reason, some researchers combined traditional fatness estimators such as body mass index (BMI) and waist to hip ratio (WHR) in the concept of considering both s...
Article
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European Journal of Clinical Nutrition is a high quality, peer-reviewed journal that covers all aspects of human nutrition.
Article
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The Maya people are descended from the indigenous inhabitants of southern Mexico, Guatemala and adjacent regions of Central America. In Guatemala, 50% of infants and children are stunted (very low height-for-age), and some rural Maya regions have >70% children stunted. A large, longitudinal, intergenerational database was created to (1) provide dee...
Article
Poverty has its nefarious roots embedded in social, political,and economic disadvantages and inequalities (Psaki et al.,2012; Leatherman, 2005). It differentially affects various segments of populations, intensifies negative outcomes of growth and development, creates ill-health in terms of infectious and non-communicable diseases, and furthers dis...
Research
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Abstract - Podium Presentation - 2015 SSHB Symposium - Human Biology of Poverty. To be read together with the Powerpoint Presentation DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3129.9283
Research
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Podium POWERPOINT presentation - by Emmanuel Assasie et al (2015). To be read with Abstract DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2700.8721
Research
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Poster presented at the 2015 SSHB Symposium - Human Biology of Poverty (Lisbon, Portugal | 2-5 September 2015). http://sshb2015symposium.com/
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Maya Project (mayaproject.org.uk) The Maya are the largest living group of Native Americans, with 6-7 million members dispersed across what is now Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize. During 2012, popular interest in the Maya increased largely as the result of a prophecy, falsely interpreted, claiming that cataclysmic events would occur as a conseque...
Article
Objectives To test the hypothesis that living conditions experienced by maternal grandmothers (F1 generation) and mothers (F2 generation) during their childhood are related to height and leg length (LL: height − sitting height) of their 6-to-8 year old children (F3 generation).Methods From September 2011 to June 2012 we obtained height and LL, and...
Chapter
Full-text available
Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow. From Abstract Our purpose in this chapter is to explain how human physical growth reflects the biocultural environment in which groups of people live. We do this in the context of our research on the physical growth and health of Maya children an...
Chapter
Full-text available
Our purpose in this chapter is to explain how human physical growth reflects the biocultural environment in which groups of people live. We do this in the context of our research on the physical growth and health of Maya children and adults. The Maya are one of the native peoples of the Americas. There are an estimated 7-8 million Maya living in Gu...
Article
Full-text available
The co-existence of very short stature due to poor chronic environment in early life and obesity is becoming a public health concern in rapidly transitioning populations with high levels of poverty. Individuals who have very short stature seem to be at an increased risk of obesity in times of relative caloric abundance. Increasing evidence shows th...
Article
Full-text available
The association between poverty, malnutrition, illness and poor socioeconomic conditions on the one side, and poor growth and short adult stature on the other side, is well recognized. Yet, the simple assumption by implication that poor growth and short stature result from poor living conditions, should be questioned. Recent evidence on the impact...
Article
Childhood obesity is a public health concern in Portugal. Socio-demographic and behavioral factors are highly associated with obesity but are not clearly understood. This article aims to update the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Portuguese children and to explore the influence and risks of socio-demographic factors and behavioral factors....
Article
To test the hypothesis that leg length-relative-to-stature is a more sensitive indicator of nutrition and health than is total height (HT) or sitting height (SH) in a sample of 109 triads of urban Maya children (6.0-8.99 years), their mothers, and maternal grandmothers from Merida, Mexico. From September 2011 to June 2012, the following factors wer...
Article
Full-text available
The Maya are the most populous and shortest in stature Native American ethnic group. The Maya provide us a good opportunity to study the dietetic characteristics of a group who experience nutritional dual burden (the combination of under and ovenutrition) at the individual, mother-child dyad and population level. The aim of this study is to describ...
Presentation
Full-text available
Podium presentation. 38 Annual Meeting - Human Biology Association, Knoxville, TN (April 2013).
Article
Full-text available
The Body Mass Index (BMI) was developed to estimate the risk for overweight in large samples of people from the wealthy, heavily industrialized nations of Western Europe and North America. When used for this purpose the BMI is, generally, a good tool to estimate overweight. The BMI is a bad tool when used to estimate fatness prior to the onset of t...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Childhood stunting has been associated with an increased risk of obesity in adulthood, but the causes are unclear. This study hypothesizes that stunting significantly reduces both resting and activity energy expenditure. Aim: To assess and describe energy expenditure of low socio-economic Maya children and to determine whether stunti...
Chapter
Full-text available
Decomposing stature into its major components is proving to be a useful strategy to assess the antecedents of disease, morbidity and death in adulthood. Human leg length (foot + tibia + femur), sitting height (trunk length + head length) and their proportions (e.g. leg length in proportion to stature, and the sitting height ratio [sitting height/st...
Conference Paper
Background: Chronic early life under-nutrition (stunting) has been associated with an increased risk of overweight in adulthood, perhaps due to reduced energy expenditure. Aim: To determine whether the association between stunting and body size and composition is related to objectively measured energy expenditure (EE). Subjects and Methods: Height...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
South Asians (SA) living in the UK have higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome in comparison to Whites. Whilst regular physical activity (PA) is protective against several chronic diseases, and sedentary behaviour (SB) is reported to be detrimental to health, SA adults and children have constantly been reported as being l...
Article
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Introduction and aims: Developing countries are currently facing a dual burden of chronic malnutrition and overweight/obesity. The biocultural determinants of this phenomenon are rooted in the combined effects of socioeconomic change, metabolic impairments, intergenerational effects and negative early-life outcomes. Energy expenditure levels also p...
Conference Paper
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INTRODUCTION The ability to accurately estimate energy expenditure in a free living setting is important to further understand energy balance. This is even more important in developing countries where people still perform many labour-intense tasks and may experience nutrition deficiencies. Numerous devices are available commercially and claim to es...
Article
Logistics of using new measurement devices are important to understand when developing protocols. This paper discusses the logistics of using Actiheart physical activity monitors on children in an urban, tropical environment in a developing country. Actiheart monitoring of 36 children aged 7-9 years old was undertaken for 7 days in the city of Méri...
Conference Paper
Introduction: Obesity levels are rapidly increasing worldwide, including developing countries undergoing nutrition and behavioural transition, thereby raising the risk of related chronic diseases. In such contexts, intergenerational influences may account for some of this increase through metabolic pathways and fat utilisation and storage. This stu...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction Childhood obesity is a worldwide public health problem. Regular physical activity (PA) is protective against numerous chronic diseases, while time spent in sedentary behaviours (SB) is considered an independent risk factor for many illnesses. UK South Asians are at higher risk for several chronic diseases, and are also reported as less...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction: Obesity levels are rapidly increasing worldwide, including developing countries undergoing nutrition and behavioural transition. In such contexts, intergenerational influences may account for some of this increase through multi-generational influences on growth. This study aims to determine whether mother’s childhood socioeconomic sta...
Article
Full-text available
To document time trends in growth and nutritional status among Portuguese children from Lisbon, and their parents. Subjects and methods: Two growth surveys were carried out in Lisbon, Portugal in 1991 and in 2001 at the request of the Municipality of Lisbon. The 1991 sample was composed of 2018 children (992 boys and 1026 girls) and the 2001 sample...
Article
Full-text available
Decomposing stature into its major components is proving to be a useful strategy to assess the antecedents of disease, morbidity and death in adulthood. Human leg length (femur + tibia), sitting height (trunk length + head length) and their proportions, for example, (leg length/stature), or the sitting height ratio (sitting height/stature x 100), a...
Article
Decomposing stature into its major components is proving to be a useful strategy to assess the antecedents of disease, morbidity and death in adulthood. Human leg length (foot + tibia + femur), sitting height (trunk length + head length) and their proportions (for example the relative leg length in proportion to stature, and the sitting height rati...
Article
In developing nations, obesity has increased dramatically in the last decade, but a high prevalence of stunting still coexists. The intergenerational influences hypothesis (IIH) is one explanation for this. We test the IIH regarding variation in maternal stature, mother's age at pregnancy, and infant birth weight in relation to risk for overweight...
Conference Paper
Introduction and aims: Childhood nutritional status appears to have health effects in adulthood. Previous research by Smith et al. (2002) has investigated the predictors of childhood overweight in Mayan-American children living in Florida and found that acculturation, number of children in the family and leisure-time use of televisions and computer...