Working with the Maya in Yucatan: Behavioural,
environmental, metabolic and intergenerational factors
impacting on the hea...
Summary
• Working with the Maya
• Biocultural facts
• The Maya of Merida
• Research, training and
intervention
• Impact
• ...
Working with the Maya
• Guatemala 1976-present (Bogin)
• Maya migrants to Los Angeles and
Florida 1992 (Bogin, Loucky)
• M...
Basic biocultural facts
The Maya are:
•One of the major ethnic groups of
Guatemala, Mexico and Belize (Maya
Culture Area o...
Biocultural facts

• The pattern of human growth
reflect the social, political and
economic conditions of a society
• Heig...
Biocultural facts
Developed
countries
Growth
status

Immigrants in
developed countries

Developing
countries

Normal/tall
Fat

Normal/short
...
Nutrition transition?
Yes
igh fibre, low fat foods Low fibre, high fat foods

raditional diets)

High prevalence of
infect...
The Maya in Mérida, Mexico
The Maya: a dual burden population
(Varela-Silva et al. 2009)

• N=206, 4-6 year old Maya
21.8% stunted
33.0% overweight
2...
Research aims: Project 2010
• To identify long-and-short
term causes of the dualburden of stunting in height
and overweigh...
Methods
• Anthropometric assessment of mother-child pairs
• Body composition assessment (Bioelectric impedance)
• Estimati...
The Actiheart

Combined heart rate &
activity monitor
Sample (2010)

Children

N

Mean age
(years)

Std. Deviation

Min

Max

Boys

31

8.29

.84

6.82

9.95

Girls

27

8.56

...
Children

Mothers

WHO CDC

IOTF

p-value

WHO

CDC

p-value

Stunting

15.5

31.0

N/A

<0.001

55.2

81.0

<0.001

Under...
Body composition, energy expenditure
and physical activity
• Lean mass (muscle): strongest predictor of energy
expenditure...
Developed
countries
Growth
status

Immigrants in
developed countries

Maya in
Merida

Normal/tall
Fat

Normal/short
Fatter...
Training component
 Open to graduate students and staff from CINVESTAV
Three modules:

• Assessment of energy
expenditure...
Intervention in the communities
• Nutritional guidance to the
mothers
• “Use what is growing in your
backyard”
• “Stay awa...
The Becker model: Indicators of Impact

https://becker.wustl.edu/impact-assessment
Research outputs & activities
• International and transdisciplinary collaboration
involving universities and communities
•...
Social Media
Twitter: @inesvarelasilva
LinkedIn
ResearchGate.net

http://bemicelu.blogspot.co.uk/
Advancement of knowledge
• Change in understanding and awareness
• Our publications are cited by others
• Conference theme...
Advancement of knowledge
• Mass media
• Developing research methodologies
• New studies being generated from initial study...
Community benefit

• Awareness and identification of risk factors
• Health promotion within the community
• Measurement in...
Future plans
• Answer further research questions
• Development of measurement instruments and
techniques
• Advance researc...
Thank you
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Working with the Maya in Yucatan: Behavioural, environmental, metabolic and intergenerational factors impacting health

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Working with the Maya
Biocultural facts
The Maya of Merida
Research, training and intervention
Impact
What’s next?

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  • The Maya have a long history of social, economic, and political repression at the hands of European
    colonists and, more recently, from the Guatemalan and Mexican political regimes.(113) The Maya of these
    regions in Mexico and Guatemala are historically, socially, and biologically related to each other.(114) The
    political boundary between Mexico and Guatemala artificially divides what is commonly referred to as the
    Maya Culture Area (Guatemala, the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico and Belize). The current social,
    economic, and political situation for the Maya of Guatemala makes fieldwork in that country difficult and
    dangerous. For these reasons we will work with the Maya of the Yucatan.
    Cultural descendants of the pre-Conquest Maya
    Speak Maya dialects and Spanish
    Wear traditional clothing
    Eat specific food
    Geneticaly similar within the Mundo Maya – different from other Latin groups
  • Working with the Maya in Yucatan: Behavioural, environmental, metabolic and intergenerational factors impacting health

    1. 1. Working with the Maya in Yucatan: Behavioural, environmental, metabolic and intergenerational factors impacting on the health of the families Dr Inês Varela-Silva, PhD Centre for Global Health and Human Development Loughborough University, UK M.I.O.Varela-Silva@lboro.ac.uk (with F Dickinson, H Wilson, H Azcorra, PL Griffiths and B Bogin)
    2. 2. Summary • Working with the Maya • Biocultural facts • The Maya of Merida • Research, training and intervention • Impact • What’s next?
    3. 3. Working with the Maya • Guatemala 1976-present (Bogin) • Maya migrants to Los Angeles and Florida 1992 (Bogin, Loucky) • Maya migrants to Florida 1999present (Bogin, Varela-Silva, Smith, Loucky) • Maya in Yucatan 2005-present (Varela-Silva, Azcorra, Dickinson, Wilson, Griffiths, Bogin, Frisancho)
    4. 4. Basic biocultural facts The Maya are: •One of the major ethnic groups of Guatemala, Mexico and Belize (Maya Culture Area or Mundo Maya) (Montejo 1999) •Long history of social, economic, and political repression (Coe 2005) •Historically, socially, biologically (genetically) related to each other (Cucina & Tiesler 2004, Scherer 2007, Ibarra-Rivera et al 2008)
    5. 5. Biocultural facts • The pattern of human growth reflect the social, political and economic conditions of a society • Height is a reliable indicator of the quality of the environment (e.g. Tanner 1989, Bogin 1999)
    6. 6. Biocultural facts
    7. 7. Developed countries Growth status Immigrants in developed countries Developing countries Normal/tall Fat Normal/short Fatter Stunted Fat Excessive intake of dietary fat Excessive caloric comsumption Common factors EE / P. Act levels Very low Probably low Not known Metabolic pathways High fat oxidation & low carb oxidation Probably reduced fat oxidation Energy conserving mechanisms Discordant information Positive growth Interof mothers & generational grandmothers: and early positive lasting life effects effect on current generation (Probably)...Negative growth of mothers & grandmothers: negative lasting effect on current generation
    8. 8. Nutrition transition? Yes igh fibre, low fat foods Low fibre, high fat foods raditional diets) High prevalence of infectious diseases (globalized diets) Nutritional dual-burden High prevalence of non-communicable diseases Epidemiological transition? Yes Very short and fat Behavioural transition? We don’t know Active lifestyle Sedentary lifestyle
    9. 9. The Maya in Mérida, Mexico
    10. 10. The Maya: a dual burden population (Varela-Silva et al. 2009) • N=206, 4-6 year old Maya 21.8% stunted 33.0% overweight 2.4 % dual-burden children • N= 201, Maya mothers 70% are below the 5th percentile for height - below 150cm • Birthweight < 3,000 gr less likely to be OW/OB, more likely to be stunted as children • Mother < 150 cm 3.6 times more likely of having stunted children Intergenerational effects…
    11. 11. Research aims: Project 2010 • To identify long-and-short term causes of the dualburden of stunting in height and overweight among Maya families • To identify intergenerational and early life biocultural factors that shape nutritional status outcomes during childhood
    12. 12. Methods • Anthropometric assessment of mother-child pairs • Body composition assessment (Bioelectric impedance) • Estimation of energy expenditure (free living) • Culture-specific food frequency questionnaire • Interviews: prenatal & birthing care, birth outcomes, food security, maternal education, woman’s status, access to safe water, sanitation, and SES
    13. 13. The Actiheart Combined heart rate & activity monitor
    14. 14. Sample (2010) Children N Mean age (years) Std. Deviation Min Max Boys 31 8.29 .84 6.82 9.95 Girls 27 8.56 .72 6.95 9.95 Total 58 8.42 .79 6.82 9.95 Mothers 58 34.30 6.28 22.52 49.42
    15. 15. Children Mothers WHO CDC IOTF p-value WHO CDC p-value Stunting 15.5 31.0 N/A <0.001 55.2 81.0 <0.001 Underweight 1.7 5.2 6.9 Ns 0.0 N/A Overweight 8.6 12.1 17.2 <0.001 91.4 N/A Obesity 0.0 15.5 10.3 <0.001 39.7 N/A
    16. 16. Body composition, energy expenditure and physical activity • Lean mass (muscle): strongest predictor of energy expenditure • The shorter the stature, the lower the levels of activity energy expenditure However • Children: overall highly active, above the guidelines. • Girls and stunted children: lowest level of physical activity Wilson et al (submitted AHB)
    17. 17. Developed countries Growth status Immigrants in developed countries Maya in Merida Normal/tall Fat Normal/short Fatter Dual-burden Excessive intake of dietary fat Excessive caloric comsumption Common factors EE / P. Act levels Very low Probably low High Metabolic pathways High fat oxidation & low carb oxidation Probably reduced fat oxidation Energy conserving mechanisms Discordant information (Probably)...Negative growth of mothers & grandmothers: negative lasting effect on current generation Negative growth of mothers & grandmothers: negative effect on children Positive growth Interof mothers & generational grandmothers: and early positive lasting life effects effect on children
    18. 18. Training component  Open to graduate students and staff from CINVESTAV Three modules: • Assessment of energy expenditure (MIVS): • Biocultural theory and application for the assessment of health and nutritional status (BB) • Ecological and anthropological research in Mexico (FD)
    19. 19. Intervention in the communities • Nutritional guidance to the mothers • “Use what is growing in your backyard” • “Stay away from fast foods and fizzy drinks” • Basic nutritional status information for mothers and children • Encourage children to stay active and play outside
    20. 20. The Becker model: Indicators of Impact https://becker.wustl.edu/impact-assessment
    21. 21. Research outputs & activities • International and transdisciplinary collaboration involving universities and communities • Peer-reviewed articles • Conferences, meetings, symposia and lectures • Data available upon request • Media releases/interviews • Public presentations (outside academia) • Social media usage (FB, Twitter and blog) • Training materials • Trainees and scholars
    22. 22. Social Media Twitter: @inesvarelasilva LinkedIn ResearchGate.net http://bemicelu.blogspot.co.uk/
    23. 23. Advancement of knowledge • Change in understanding and awareness • Our publications are cited by others • Conference themes around the topic • Research study findings are cited in others presentations • On-going research collaboration and expanding beyond grants • Re-use of data
    24. 24. Advancement of knowledge • Mass media • Developing research methodologies • New studies being generated from initial study • Research study cited in a review • Trainees and scholars continue in a different institution
    25. 25. Community benefit • Awareness and identification of risk factors • Health promotion within the community • Measurement instruments generated by project
    26. 26. Future plans • Answer further research questions • Development of measurement instruments and techniques • Advance research methodologies • Website development – not just a blog • Continue training sessions • Develop partnership with NGOs • Reinforce partnership in the communities • Translate research into legislation and policy • Economic benefit???
    27. 27. Thank you

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