Sex differences in Hadza eating frequency by food type

Am J Hum Biol. May-Jun 2011;23(3):339-45. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.21139. Epub 2011 Mar 28.


Objectives: We investigate sex differences in frequencies of adults eating in a foraging population-the Hadza of Tanzania.

Methods: We use eating frequency data from instantaneous scan observations of the Hadza, to see to how much sharing of foods taken back to camp compensates for the targeting of different foods by each sex while out foraging.

Results: Eating in camp differs by sex in terms of overall eating frequency, as well as in terms of diet composition (frequencies of eating each food type). We also control for sex-differences in time spent in camp and still find sex-differences in eating frequencies-women are observed eating significantly more frequently than men. There are also sex-differences in the eating frequencies of particular food types both with and without controlling for presence in camp. Finally, we use data on acquisition of each food type by sex and find that both sexes are more frequently observed eating women's foods in camp than men's foods.

Conclusions: At least in the case of the Hadza, we see pronounced sex differences in the in-camp diet. Hadza men are eating a higher quality diet than are women, but women are able to eat far more frequently, and spend less time foraging than men. It is not yet clear whether a regular caloric intake of lower quality foods would be more beneficial for maintaining fecundity than a more variable diet consisting of higher quality foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Eating / ethnology*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Food / classification*
  • Food Preferences / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Tanzania