Nutritional status of Makushi Amerindian children and adolescents of Guyana


Background: Amazonian Indians are in the midst of a rapid cultural transition. The developments affecting Amazonian Indians present an opportunity to address important public health problems through public and private initiatives, but to do so it is imperative to begin with information on the health status of these peoples and the underlying factors affecting it. However, relatively few such data are available for this vast region. Aim: This study describes the nutritional status of Makushi Amerindians of Guyana and considers several variables which might help to explain it. Subjects and methods: Data for 792 Makushi, 0-20 years of age from 11 villages are considered. Outcome variables considered are anthropometric markers of growth and nutritional status; specifically height-for-age, weight-for-height and body-mass index. Predictor variables explored are age, sex, relative isolation, number of siblings, season of birth, diet and morbidity. Fisher's exact test, chi-square, Pearson's correlation and multiple regression were used to assess possible relationships between these variables. Results: Relative to other Amazonian Indians, the Makushi have a lower rate of linear-growth faltering and a higher rate of linear-growth faltering relative to non-Amerindian Guyanese. Males, older cohorts, those living in isolated villages or born in the wet season showed higher rates of growth faltering. Conclusion: Makushi nutritional status may be explained by sex, age, relative isolation, family size, season of birth, dietary intake and infectious disease. © Informa UK, Ltd.

Publication Title

Annals of Human Biology