Human adaptability approach to nutritional assessment: a Bolivian example

Fed Proc. 1981 Sep;40(11):2577-82.


Recent interest in the functional correlates of mild to moderate malnutrition has provided an opportunity for anthropologists to collaborate in research with nutritional scientists. Physical anthropological studies of human adaptability have developed the methodology and theory to examine the importance of general and specific functional areas of individual and population adaptations. This anthropological approach to human adaptability corresponds well with the functional approach to nutritional sciences. Examples are presented from recent physical anthropological research on high-altitude adaptation to demonstrate how this integration of disciplinary methodology can contribute to a better understanding of human nutritional status. The functional areas of child growth and female reproductive performance are examined in relation to the multistress environment of the Peruvian-Bolivian high Andes. Knowledge of how nutritional variation affects the adaptability of high-altitude populations provides a better basis for the identification of protein-energy malnutrition during childhood and iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Altitude*
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / epidemiology
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Bolivia
  • Female
  • Growth
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Reproduction


  • Iron