Department of Anthropology

Child nutrition and growth: Parental investment and life history theory approaches

WSUV Faculty participants

In small, kin-based communities, are some children cared for better than others? Further, within families, do parents invest differently in different children, and, if so, why? My research addresses the behavioral and psychological aspects of this question using data from Amazonian populations.

Among the Ecuadorian Shuar, for example, colleagues and I use anthropometric measures such as children's height, weight, BMI, skinfold thicknesses, and limb circumferences as indices of parental investment. Our main focus is to determine the factors that account for within-village and within-family variation in child growth and development. For instance, do parents "pay a price" for having large families in the form of the reduced growth and development of each child? Do adolescent sisters and brothers contribute positively or negatively to the growth and development of younger siblings?

We also investigate postpartum depression among Shuar women and its possible impact on their children.

Articles and Chapters

PDF Hagen EH and Barret HC 2009. Cooperative breeding and adolescent siblings: Evidence for the ecological constraints model? Current Anthropology, 50, 727-737.
PDF Hagen EH, Barrett HC and Price ME 2006. Do Human Parents Face a Quantity-Quality Tradeoff?: Evidence From a Shuar Community. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 130, 405-418.
PDF Hagen EH, Hames RB, Craig NM, Lauer MT and Price ME 2001. Parental investment and child health in a Yanomamo village suffering short-term food stress. Journal of Biosocial Science, 33, 503-528.
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