Amazonian populations are experiencing dietary changes characteristic of the nutrition transition. However, the degree of change appears to vary between urban and rural settings. To investigate this process, we determined carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in fingernails and dietary intake of Amazonian populations living along a rural to urban continuum along the Solimões River in Brazil.
Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios were analyzed from the fingernails of 431 volunteer subjects living in different settings ranging from rural villages, small towns to urban centers along the Solimões River. Data from 200 dietary intake surveys were also collected using food frequency questionnaires and 24-h recall interviews in an effort to determine qualitative aspects of diet composition.
Fingernail δ13C values (mean ± standard deviation) were −23.2 ± 1.3, −20.2 ± 1.5, and −17.4 ± 1.3‰ and δ15N values were 11.8 ± 0.6, 10.4 ± 0.8, and 10.8 ± 0.7‰ for those living in rural villages, small towns, and major cities, respectively. We found a gradual increase in the number of food items derived from C4 plant types (meat and sugar) and the replacement of food items derived from C3 plant types (fish and manioc flour) with increasing size of urban centers.
Increasing urbanization in the Brazilian Amazon is associated with a significant change in food habits with processed and industrialized products playing an increasingly important role in the diet and contributing to the nutrition transition in the region. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc. .