DeCaro, Dr. Jason A., U. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL - To aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation'
DR. JASON A. DeCARO, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was awarded funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'Physical Activity and the Architecture of Daily Life among Alabama Mexican Americans: A Biocultural Investigation.' Rising global obesity rates, and the historically limited effectiveness of behavioral interventions in addressing them, motivate the search for new understandings of biocultural and psychosocial determinants of physical activity. Physical activity occurs as a constituent of broader daily routines that are culturally constructed, complexly motivated, and socially constrained. Hence, daily routines may be viewed as a mechanism through which culture is progressively embodied across the life course, with body size and composition among the outcomes. In West Alabama, interviews, detailed daily activity diaries, 24-hour 5-day actigraphy (accelerometry), and BMI/body composition measurements were undertaken with 37 Mexican/Mexican-American young adults, including both recent non-student immigrants and college students. High agreement across subgroups regarding ideals for leisure-time physical activity intersect with profound intergroup and gender variation in beliefs and practices regarding the integration of physical activity into daily life. Further, the social context of physical activity moderates its relation to body size and composition. By combining biological, cultural, and behavioral data, it is possible to open new windows into embodiment as a biocultural process.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Return to School Accompanied by Changing Associations between Family Ecology and Cortisol. Developmental Psychobiology 50(2):183-195.
DeCaro, Jason. 2008. Culture and the Socialization of Child Cardiovascular Regulation at School Entry in the US. American Journal of Human Biology. 20(5):572-583.
De Caro, Jason. 2011. Changing Family Routines at Kindergarten Entry Predict Biomarkers of Parental Stress. International Journal of Behavioral Development 35(5):441-448.
DeCaro, Jason. 2012. Investigating the Social Ecology of Daily Experience Using Computerized Structured Diaries: Physical Activity among Mexican American Young Adults. Field Methods 24(3):328-347.
Eisenberg, Daniel Thomas Abraham, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: A Longitudinal and Cross-population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher W. Kuzawa
DAN EISENBERG, then a student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, received a grant in May 2010 to research on 'Ecological Predictors of Telomere Lengths: a Longitudinal and Cross-Population Analysis of Human Biological Diversity,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Kuzawa . Telomeres are DNA sequences at chromosome ends that shorten with age and are required for proper cell division. Telomere shortening is associated with diminished cell proliferation capacity, which is believed to be a cause of senescence. Given the importance of cell proliferation to blood telomere length (BTL), it has been hypothesized that BTL reflects previous immune system activation and indicates current immune function. Thus BTL could provide a new biomarker of life history allocations and of developmental exposures to infection. Contrary to the shortening of BTL that occurs with age, previous studies have shown that children of older fathers have longer telomeres. By analyzing BTL data from the Philippines, Eisenberg and colleagues showed for the first time that this happens across at least two generations: older fathers not only have offspring with longer telomeres, but their sons also have offspring with longer telomeres. Analyses of how early life infection and growth predicts later BTL are ongoing.
Eisenberg, Dan. 2012. Delayed Paternal Age of Reproduction in Humans is Associated with Longer Telomeres across Two Generations of Descendants. PNAS Early Edition (published online).
Gray, Dr. Peter Bard, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone'
DR. PETER B. GRAY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Fathers in Jamaica: Longitudinal Changes, Biological and Stepparenting, and Testosterone.' What are the impacts of fatherhood on Jamaican men? The project addresses this wider question in several ways. Fathers of children aged approximately 18-24 months were asked about their paternal attitudes, relationship dynamics, sexual function, and health, enabling testing for effects of fatherhood on such outcomes as relationship quality and depression. The potential moderating effects of socioeconomic status on these changes are also addressed, since the variable resources available to men may also influence the quality of their partnerships and availability to meet paternal expectations. In a context of variable male parental involvement and many families with mixed parentage, paternal outcomes of biological and stepfathers are compared. Existing cross-cultural studies suggests that biological fathers tend to be more invested in their children, a proposition also tested here. Last, the project tests the hypothesis that biological fathers have lower testosterone levels than stepfathers. Altogether, findings from this study enhance an understanding of the changes fathers of young children undergo; the different experiences of biological and stepfathers; and one of the possible physiological mechanisms differentiating the experiences of biological and stepfathers. Since these areas are of interest and relevance not just in Jamaica, this project contributes to wider discussions of fatherhood.
Dancause, Dr. Kelsey N., U. of Quebec, Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu'
Preliminary abstract: Psychosocial stress during pregnancy affects not only the mother, but also her child. At high levels, maternal stress hormones can cross the placenta and affect fetal development. Prenatal stress has been associated with poor birth outcomes (such as low birthweight and preterm birth) and long-term effects such as obesity. Unfortunately, nearly all studies of prenatal stress are in industrialized nations. The effects of prenatal stress seen in industrialized countries likely cannot be generalized to women experiencing not only high levels of stress during pregnancy, but also potential undernutrition and heavy infectious disease burdens that could interact with and exacerbate the effects of prenatal stress. We need more data on the effects of prenatal stress from low- and middle-income and rapidly modernizing countries. Furthermore, we need to use common and validated surveys to collect these data, to allow comparison to the existing literature from other countries. Our OBJECTIVE is to address this gap in knowledge in Vanuatu, a low-middle-income country in the South Pacific where we have conducted anthropological research on population health since 2007. We will rely on commonly used and validated surveys to measure mothers' psychosocial stress and related mental health measures during pregnancy. We will analyze relationships between maternal psychosocial stress and infants' birth outcomes, such as their birth weight and gestational age. This study will allow us to identify how the relationships between prenatal stress and birth outcomes in developing countries might differ from patterns seen in industrialized nations, and will promote more detailed studies in other developing countries.
Lee, Sarah E., U. of Georgia, Athens, GA - To aid research on 'Nutritional and Health Consequences of Children's Self-Provisioning Activity in Xalapa, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Alexandra A. Brewis
SARAH E. LEE, then a student at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, received funding in September 2003 to aid research on 'Nutritional and Health Consequences of Children's Self-Provisioning Activity in Xalapa, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Alexandra A. Brewis. This dissertation explores how children's own provisioning activities might influence their well-being under conditions of extreme urban poverty. The immediate purpose of this study was to determine whether self-provisioning children had a measurably different nutrition and health status than children living under the same circumstances who do not engage in provisioning activities (such as working, begging or foraging for food). This dissertation research was conducted in ten neighborhoods in the shantytowns surrounding the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico from October 2003 until December 2004. The researcher collected a sample size of 95 children between the ages of 8 and 12 who lived with their families. Six different data sets were collected, including 95 household interviews, 285 separate interviews concerning children's time allocation, diet, and illness. The researcher conducted 1425 hours of observation (fifteen hours per child), which provides very rich and accurate data concerning the time allocation and dietary habits of provisioning and non-provisioning children. On-going analysis indicates that the data will support the research question. There does seem to be an age and gender dimension in provisioning actives. Children shared their resources with their siblings, which is a benefit to the siblings, but also shared resources within peer groups. Children who engage in provisioning activities do seem at least marginally healthier, and some are taller than their counterparts who do not engage in provisioning activities. It is likely that the final analysis will show that children who work, beg, or forage for food, will have benefited from their activities.
Barta, Dr. Jodi Lynn, U. of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada - To aid research on 'The Relationship Between Skin Pigmentation and Vitamin D Insufficiency in Northern Latitudes'
DR. JODI LYNN BARTA, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on 'The Relationship between Skin Pigmentation and Vitamin D Insufficiency in Northern Latitudes.' This project examined the effects that changes in season have on vitamin D concentrations in individuals with varying levels of melanin in their skin in order to clarify the relationship between constitutive pigmentation and vitamin D status in otherwise healthy young adults of diverse ancestry living in northern latitudes. Preliminary data collected show that those with higher levels of melanin in their skin are at consistently higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency, thus supporting the UVR hypothesis and highlighting the evolutionary significance of skin pigmentation as it relates to geographic origins and the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Given the profound effects that vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency have on the human body, it was surprising that mean vitamin D concentrations in all ancestry groups were below adequate (75 nmol/L) regardless of season, despite the fact that mean vitamin D intakes in both late summer (296.72 IU) and winter (281.54 IU) were above current recommended adequate intake for adults (200 IU/day). Further research is necessary to precisely determine the vitamin D requirements of individuals of diverse ancestry living in northern latitudes and address the need for higher vitamin D intakes through supplementation and/or improved food fortification strategies to meet requirements and improve overall public health.
Garofalo, Evan Michele, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Genetic and Environmental Effects on Skeletal Growth Variation,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Britton Ruff
EVAN M. GAROFALO, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, received funding in May 2010, to aid research on 'Genetic and Environmental Effects on Skeletal Growth Variation,' supervised by Dr. Christopher Britton Ruff. Adult morphology and variation are the result of complex interactions between genetic and environmental effects during the growth process. Health, disease, and socio-economic status are important for the regulation of the growth trajectory, particularly during infancy and early childhood. However, genetic differences, increasing in prominence during adolescence, contribute significantly to growth profiles and the attainment of adult morphology. Thus, the primary goal of this project is to partition the relative importance of environmental and genetic influences on the timing and nature of the growth process. Multiple skeletal variables, each differentially sensitive to environmental and genetic influence, were examined to assess the skeletal growth of individuals from St. Peter's Church (Barton-upon-Humber, UK) -- a socially stratified and relatively genetically homogeneous population. In this study, there is no effect of socioeconomic status on long bone length, stature, body mass or articular dimensions. However, long bone diaphyseal cross-sectional cortical and medullary areas (considered to be highly environmentally sensitive) show marked differences, primarily during infancy and early childhood, with reduced or no differences for young adults. Early results and palaeopathological observations suggest socioeconomic groups differences may be related to sustaining more prolonged durations of metabolic distress in the higher socioeconomic subadult sample.
Madimenos, Dr. Felicia, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY - To aid engaged activities on 'Engaging Shuar Communities Through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research,' 2013, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador
DR. FELICIA MADIMENOS, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, received an Engaged Anthropology Grant in February 2013 to aid 'Engaging Shuar Communities through Collaborative Health Education: Enhancing Participant Agency in Indigenous Health Research in Morona-Santiago, Ecuador.' Misinformation regarding the causes and prevention of illness/disease and miscommunication between local health care providers and patients present hurdles for the anthropologist/health researcher working in a non-Western context. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance for anthropologists to consciously bridge communication barriers by creating ample time for dialog with the participant and translating health data into an accessible form. The Engaged Anthropology Grant provided an opportunity to reconsider how the grantee conducts health research with indigenous Amazonian Shuar communities in Ecuador and achieved the following goals: 1) to develop family health days for participants permitting more individualized discussions of health (these meetings also created a platform for dissemination of population-specific health materials); 2) to facilitate a community-level workshop led by a Shuar colleague/health promoter that focused on family planning options; and 3) to participate in community-wide presentations that highlighted common health issues among Shuar and introduced potential health resources in the participants' own community. These platforms emphasize that in order for health information to remain relevant over the long-term, anthropologists must develop opportunities that empower communities by making accessible the knowledge and information necessary for participants to participate in, and affect informed decisions about their health.
Hazel, Dr. Mary-Ashley, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Ecology, Mobility, and Sexually Transmitted Virus Burden in a Pastoralist Population'
Preliminary abstract: Migration and other forms of human mobility contribute to the global transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. The act of being mobile--of spending significant amounts of time in different locations and environments--influences the patterns of a person's social contacts. Although some pandemic disease spread is driven by mobility that spans vast distances and requires only brief and or even indirect contact (e.g. influenza spreading along airline routes), transmission of diseases that require intense and frequent contact, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), usually occurs in the context of repetitive and local mobility. This issue is particularly important for rural populations with historically high rates of STDs that, due to recent changes in local mobility that increase contact with urban and novel populations, are at risk for introduction of HIV. One such high-risk context is Kaokoveld, Namibia, where traditional nomadic mobility (restricted mainly to rural areas) is merging with increased travel to growing urban areas and incoming mobility from adjacent regions with high HIV prevalence. This research will identify the major mobility patterns in Kaokoveld and how these mobility patterns shape structural determinants of risk in sexual contact networks for herpes simplex virus type 2. The outcomes of this study offer important insights into the underlying structural outcomes of diverse mobility in a pastoralist society and how social systems associated with a mobile lifestyle can drive epidemic spread.
James, Paul E., U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM - To aid research on 'The Disease Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado
PAUL E. JAMES, then a student at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, received funding in January 2004 to aid research on 'The Disease of Ecology of Asthma in the Migrant Mixtec Population,' supervised by Dr. Magdalena Hurtado. What was an adaptive immune response to intestinal parasites in our agrarian past may underlie the current rise in childhood asthma among urban and acculturated populations. This research addressed the relationship between intestinal parasites and childhood asthma by examining the underlying immunological mechanisms, which these diseases share, within a transnational Mixtec population living in three distinct environments. Data collection included interviews, physiological measurements and biological sampling of induced sputum and stool from 196 Mixtec children aged 4 to 15 years living in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, urban Tijuana, Mexico and periurban California, USA. Preliminary analysis suggests that not just intestinal parasites but also other childhood infectious diseases may be protective against the development of childhood asthma. This may be the result of the general stimulation of a down regulatory effect of the interleukin-10 cytokine upon Immunoglobulin E mediated allergic inflammation. This supports the idea that a lag exists between biological adaptation and rapid ecological change, in this case due to urban migration, and that this theory is useful for linking biochemical processes to global patterns of disease such as the epidemiological transition from infectious to chronic disease.