Biosocial Responses to Seasonal Food Stress in Highland Peru

Human Biology (Impact Factor: 0.85). 03/1989; 61(1):65-85.
Source: PubMed


This paper examines patterns of seasonal variation in food consumption and responses to food stress in the highland community of Nuñoa, Peru. Dietary and anthropometric data collected from January through August of 1985 on a sample of 26 households (127 individuals) are analyzed. This study finds sharp seasonal differences in energy intake (pre-harvest = 1150 calories/day; post-harvest = 1519/day; p less than 0.01) associated with variation in the availability of locally-produced products (e.g., tubers and cereals). Seasonal energy reduction, however, does not uniformly affect all sectors of this population. Children experience little seasonal change in energy intake and have a more adequate pre-harvest diet and better nutritional status than adults. The responses used to "protect" children from energy stress and minimize the overall impact of seasonal food scarcity on this community include: 1) reduction of pre-harvest household caloric needs through emigration of adolescent and adult males, 2) preferential allocation of food to children during the pre-harvest period, 3) seasonal reduction of activity levels and the year-round use of children for many productive activities, and 4) seasonal changes in meal patterns that minimize post-prandial energy loss during periods of stress. Evaluation of similar data from other anthropological populations underscores the diversity of responses to seasonal change in food availability. Moreover, these data indicate that the protection of children from seasonal energy stress is more common than previously thought. Variation in adaptive responses to food stress appears to be dependent upon 1) the nature of the subsistence economy, 2) the relative contributions of children and adults to household production, and 3) the demographic structure of the population.

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Available from: William R. Leonard, Dec 29, 2013
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    • "Current food consumption patterns are influenced by a range of factors including an evolved preference for sugar and fat to palatability , nutritional value, culture, ease of production, and climate [25] [12] [18]. Factors such as location and the price of locally produced foods can also affect nutrient intake [20]. Others have mined recipe data from sites such as to better understand culinary practice; Ahn et al. [2] introduced the 'flavor network,' capturing the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients . "
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    ABSTRACT: Nutrition is a key factor in people's overall health. Hence, understanding the nature and dynamics of population-wide dietary preferences over time and space can be valuable in public health. To date, studies have leveraged small samples of participants via food intake logs or treatment data. We propose a complementary source of population data on nutrition obtained via Web logs. Our main contribution is a spatiotemporal analysis of population-wide dietary preferences through the lens of logs gathered by a widely distributed Web-browser add-on, using the access volume of recipes that users seek via search as a proxy for actual food consumption. We discover that variation in dietary preferences as expressed via recipe access has two main periodic components, one yearly and the other weekly, and that there exist characteristic regional differences in terms of diet within the United States. In a second study, we identify users who show evidence of having made an acute decision to lose weight. We characterize the shifts in interests that they express in their search queries and focus on changes in their recipe queries in particular. Last, we correlate nutritional time series obtained from recipe queries with time-aligned data on hospital admissions, aimed at understanding how behavioral data captured in Web logs might be harnessed to identify potential relationships between diet and acute health problems. In this preliminary study, we focus on patterns of sodium identified in recipes over time and patterns of admission for congestive heart failure, a chronic illness that can be exacerbated by increases in sodium intake.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2013
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    • "Houses within the same community may be scattered across great distances, but individual families maintain their lands for crops and grazing much closer to their homes than in the higher altitudes because of the greater availability of pasture immediately surrounding the homes. Seasonal differences in energy intake (Leonard and Thomas, 1989) and energy expenditure (Kashiwazaki et al., 2009) have been observed elsewhere in the Andes. "
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of this research is to characterize the composition and nutrient adequacy of the diets in the northern region of the Department of Potosí, Bolivia. Communities in this semiarid, mountainous region are isolated and impoverished having the highest rates of child malnutrition and under-five mortality in the Americas. A total of 2,222 twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were conducted in 30 communities during May and November 2006 and May and November 2007. Food composition data were compiled from diverse published sources and integrated with the recall data to estimate intakes of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and seven micronutrients. Diets were characterized in terms of food sources, seasonality, and nutrient adequacy. The diet relies heavily on the potato and other tubers (54% of dietary energy) and grains (30% of dietary energy). Although crop production is seasonal, off-season consumption of chuño helps to minimize seasonal fluctuations in dietary energy intake. Despite relative monotony, intakes of iron, vitamin C, most B vitamins, and vitamin A in adults are probably adequate; riboflavin, calcium, and vitamin A intakes in children are low. Nevertheless, extremely low dietary fat intakes (approximately 3-9% of dietary energy from fat) likely prevent adequate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well as lead to deficiencies of essential fatty acids. Dietary inadequacies, especially of fats, may explain much of the poor health observed in northern Potosí. An improved diet may be possible through increasing production and intake of local fat-rich food sources such as small animals.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · American Journal of Human Biology
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    • "Based on earlier research in the same village , Thomas ( 1973 : 76 ) also notes that all sex – age groups consume on average only between 54% – 71% of the FAO recommendations . Leonard and Thomas ( 1989 : 69 – 70 ) suggest that Leslie et al . ' s model ( 1984 ) , which produces generally lower kcal / day numbers ( for an Andean popula - tion , 1 , 435 kcal / day for females—75% of FAO—and 1 , 512 kcal / day for males—61% of FAO ) , is more appro - priate . "
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    ABSTRACT: During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, indigenous communities in the Viceroyalty of Peru suffered forced resettlement, introduced disease, and onerous colonial tribute levies. These produced an onslaught of petitions for new tribute counts, as their diminished populations were obliged to pay the head taxes set by earlier censuses. The resulting visitas (administrative surveys) provide a wealth of information on the demography and agricultural systems of colonial Andean communities. However, comparatively little quantitative research exists on the distribution of agricultural resources and the nutritional demands of households. We model agricultural production and nutritional demand using household demographic and landholding declarations in the visitas from the Colca Valley of southern highland Peru, combined with ethnographically-derived estimates of agricultural production and nutritional demand. The results indicate that despite surplus agricultural production in the aggregate, there were significant differences in intra- and inter-community land wealth and production sufficiency ratios, leaving about 30% of households with caloric shortfalls. In contrast to regional-scale carrying capacity-type models, this simulation characterizes agricultural inequality within colonial Andean communities, and thus accounts for the hardship evidenced by tributary recount petitions, even in a breadbasket province from which much surplus production was extracted to fill colonial coffers.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · Human Ecology
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