IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Precursors to overnutrition: The effects of household market food expenditures on measures of body composition among Tsimane' adults in lowland Bolivia


  • Rosinger, Asher
  • Tanner, Susan
  • Leonard, William R.


Nutrition transitions are characterized by shifts in diet and activity levels that lead to changes in weight and body fatness over a relatively short time. Research has linked these nutritional shifts to socio-economic factors, including wealth and income. However, few studies have examined household spending patterns on market foods among subsistence populations, which may reveal food access, choice, and indicate household nutritional environment. This paper examines the relation between household monetary expenditures on “market” foods and measures of body composition among Tsimane', a forager–horticulturalist indigenous group in the Bolivian Amazon. Economic and anthropometric surveys were conducted for adults (n = 1199) 16 years or older in 563 households in 40 Tsimane' villages in 2008. Results indicate that overweight status (19% of men and 24% of women) is more common than obesity (1% of men and 4% of women). Sixty-one percent (61%) of households reported purchasing market foods during the previous week. Multiple linear and logistic regressions suggest that men living in households in the top third of monetary expenditures on market foods had significantly higher BMI (0.69 kg/m2; p = 0.027), weight (1.80 kg; p = 0.048), percent body fat (1.06%; p = 0.025), and probability of being overweight/obese (Odds ratio = 1.83; p = 0.042) than men in households that reported not spending money on market foods in the previous week. We discuss the possibility that the division of labor may help explain the differences between men and women in this sample. This research suggests household expenditures on market foods may mediate the relation between wealth and body composition.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosinger, Asher & Tanner, Susan & Leonard, William R., 2013. "Precursors to overnutrition: The effects of household market food expenditures on measures of body composition among Tsimane' adults in lowland Bolivia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 53-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:92:y:2013:i:c:p:53-60
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.05.022

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jolliffe, Dean, 2011. "Overweight and poor? On the relationship between income and the body mass index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 342-355.
    2. Leonard, William R. & Godoy, Ricardo, 2008. "Tsimane' Amazonian Panel Study (TAPS): The first 5 years (2002-2006) of socioeconomic, demographic, and anthropometric data available to the public," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 299-301, July.
    3. DeWalt, Kathleen M., 1983. "Income and dietary adequacy in an agricultural community," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(23), pages 1877-1886, January.
    4. Reyes-García, Victoria & McDade, Thomas W. & Molina, Jose Luis & Leonard, William R. & Tanner, Susan N. & Huanca, Tomas & Godoy, Ricardo, 2008. "Social rank and adult male nutritional status: Evidence of the social gradient in health from a foraging-farming society," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(12), pages 2107-2115, December.
    5. Wells, Jonathan C.K. & Marphatia, Akanksha A. & Cole, Tim J. & McCoy, David, 2012. "Associations of economic and gender inequality with global obesity prevalence: Understanding the female excess," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 482-490.
    6. Colchero, M.A. & Sosa-Rubí, S.G., 2012. "Heterogeneity of income and lifestyle determinants of body weight among adult women in Mexico, 2006," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 120-128.
    7. Ulijaszek, Stanley J. & Koziel, Slawomir, 2007. "Nutrition transition and dietary energy availability in Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 359-369, December.
    8. Jacobson, David & Mavrikiou, Petroula M. & Minas, Christos, 2010. "Household size, income and expenditure on food: The case of Cyprus," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 319-328, April.
    9. Zeng, Wu & Eisenberg, Dan T.A. & Jovel, Karla Rubio & Undurraga, Eduardo A. & Nyberg, Colleen & Tanner, Susan & Reyes-García, Victoria & Leonard, William R. & Castaño, Juliana & Huanca, Tomás & McDade, 2013. "Adult obesity: Panel study from native Amazonians," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 227-235.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:30-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Leonard, William R. & Reyes-García, Victoria & Tanner, Susan & Rosinger, Asher & Schultz, Alan & Vadez, Vincent & Zhang, Rebecca & Godoy, Ricardo, 2015. "The Tsimane’ Amazonian Panel Study (TAPS): Nine years (2002–2010) of annual data available to the public," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 51-61.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:92:y:2013:i:c:p:53-60. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.