The Disruption of Subsistence Agricultural Systems in Rural Yucatan, Mexico May Have Contributed to the Coexistence of Stunting in Children with Adult Overweight and Obesity
This paper attempts to link last century’s disruption of local agricultural systems to today’s presence of childhood under nutrition and adult overweight and obesity in the Yucatan Peninsula. It first compares Height for Age (H/A), Weight for Age (W/A) and Body Mass Index (BMI) of children from three rural populations in Yucatan and Campeche, Mexico whose subsistence strategy had been altered to different degrees since 1970. It then compares BMI in adults, in the same regions, born before and after the alteration of their environment in the 1970´s. Children in the least disrupted zone were taller and had lower BMI than children in the other two, but were not heavier than children from the richest disrupted zone. Children in the poorest disrupted zone were shorter and lighter than the rest. BMI in adult men was higher in the two most disrupted zones only in those cohorts that grew up after the traditional agricultural regime was altered. It is concluded that disruptions of staple-based subsistence agriculture promoted a stockier phenotype in children and a tendency to accumulate body fat. Persistence of these conditions in the twenty first century has favored the coexistence of stunting during childhood with adults who easily become overweight.
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