The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


*PRESENTATION WITHDRAWN* Farming, food and fitness in highland Ethiopia: anthropometric and dental indicators

MARY S. WILLIS1, SHIMELIS G. BEYENE1, RAYMOND HAMES1, BELAINEH LEGESSE2, MARTHA MAMO3, TESHOME REGASSA3, TSEGAYE TADESSE4 and YITBAREK WOLDE-HAWARIAT5.

1Anthropology, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2Office of the Vice President, Haramaya University, Haramaya, Ethiopia, 3Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, 4School of Natural Resource Sciences, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, 5Office of the Vice President, Wollo University, Dessie, Ethiopia

Saturday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

We conducted surveys, anthropometric assessments, and dental examinations in two drought-prone regions of Ethiopia from June through August of 2011. Both regions are known for high vulnerability to food insecurity. Our sample included individuals within 150 households of South Wollo, an area located within the Amhara region of north central Ethiopia and the ‘buckle’ of Ethiopia’s famine belt. Additionally we assessed 202 households in East Harrage, an area of the Oromia region in Eastern Ethiopia.

Health and nutrition indicators, including weight-for-height, the ratio of arm span-to-height, mid-arm circumference, and the number of missing and decayed teeth, varied significantly among villages at different altitudes. Preliminary analyses indicate that in South Wollo, villages at the highest altitude exhibited the greatest degree of malnutrition, followed by lower altitude villages. Villages at mid-altitude contained the largest number of households with the least malnourished individuals. One factor which varies within South Wollo is the amount of time land has been cultivated; some of the households at the highest altitudes were only established in the last three decades. By contrast, in East Harrage, where cash-crops predominate, micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent despite resource availability.

For both regions, there are other factors at work which affect nutrition and health status. Among these are access to water for irrigation, access to treated drinking water, livestock available for food and work, household assets, availability of health care, and cash and food crop production. Nutritional and dental education is needed to mitigate health decline among households in both regions.

We thank the University of Nebraska Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources' 'Integrated Seed Grant Program' for providing resources to conduct this research.

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