Dissertation Research: The Impact of Seasonality and Food Habits on Maternal-Child Nutritional Well-Being and Health Among Highland Basotho
Jonathan S. Friedlaender Program Manager
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Highly seasonal ecologies can severely impact the nutritional well-being and health status of individuals. Two groups which are particularly at risk are mothers and their infants and young children. In order to survive in such situations socieities develop a variety of coping mechanisms that may buffer against the deleterious environmental conditions. The proposed research will undertake to determine the effects of seasonal food supplies on the health of mothers and young children in the highlands of Lesotho, a southern African country with highly seasonal food supplies. Data will be gathered on seasonal ecology, household demographics, financial reseources, various aspects of diet, health and nutritional variables. Samples will be drawn from both the general population and a subset of those who attend a local health clinic. It is hypothesized that women who show the greatest variability in weight will have the children with the poorest nutritional status and that those with the greatest dietary variety will maintain higher anthropometric status as well as the lowest incidence of infectious disease. It is also hypothesized that ther will be more dietary diversity in families in which both parents are present and/or maintain an extrended family structure. Such research will provide valuable information on the relationship of seasonal stresses and biosocial responses.