Adult health outcomes and their implications for experiences of childhood nutritional stress in Jamaica

Authors


  • This article was presented at the 2008 AAPA meeting in a symposium in honor of A. Roberto Frisancho, on the occasion of his retirement from the Department of Anthropology of the University of Michigan.

Abstract

With insights from the developmental origins of health and disease paradigm (DOHaD), this study explores the impact of childhood nutritional stress on adult health outcomes in Jamaica. Jamaica experienced a lengthy period of political and economic instability beginning in the postcolonial period of the early 1960s. This study tests whether decreased government spending on public resources and limited access to imported food products during the early postcolonial period will be reflected in increased adiposity and body mass index among Jamaican adults. Ethnographic and anthropometric data were collected from individuals born between 1958 and 1988. Variability in health outcomes was assessed using Z-score values for body mass index and summed skinfold thickness measures. Age was employed as both a continuous and categorical independent variable. In partial correlation models controlling for economic status, body mass index values and summed skinfold thickness increased with age. Birth cohort and gender effects were also apparent. Women born between 1959 and 1968 had higher body mass index Z-score values than younger women. Both men and women born between 1959 and 1968 had significantly higher skinfold thickness measures than younger individuals. Individuals born between 1959 and 1968 were children during the immediate postcolonial era in Jamaica. Experiences of nutritional stress during critical developmental periods may have contributed to the observed age-related increases in adipose tissue and body mass index values. This study informs our understanding of the ways that fluctuations in the sociopolitical environment during development can mediate and contribute to poor adult health outcomes. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary