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[Paper Spotlight] Effects of a mixed‐subsistence diet on the growth of Hadza children

A new paper by Trevor Pollom, Kristen Herlosky, Alyssa Crittenden and colleagues examines the effects of a mixed-subsistence diet on the growth of Hadza children. Out now in the American Journal of Human Biology.

Effects of a mixed‐subsistence diet on the growth of Hadza children

Trevor R. Pollom Chad L. Cross Kristen N. Herlosky Elle Ford Alyssa N. Crittenden


Introduction: We investigated the preliminary effects of dietary changes on the anthropometric measurements of child and adolescent Hadza foragers.

Methods: We conducted a cross‐sectional study comparing height and weight of participants (aged 0‐17 years) at two time points, 2005 (n = 195) and 2017 (n = 52), from two locations: semi‐nomadic “bush camps” and sedentary “village camps”. World Health Organization (WHO) calculators were used to generate standardized z‐scores for weight‐for‐height (WHZ), weight‐for‐age (WAZ), height‐for‐age (HAZ), and BMI‐for‐age (BMIFAZ). Cross tabulations were constructed for each measurement variable as a function of z‐score categories and the variables year, location, and sex.

Results: Residency in a village, and associated mixed‐subsistence diet, was associated with favorable growth, including greater WAZ (P  < .001), HAZ (P  < .001), and BMIFAZ (P = .004), but not WHZ (P = .717). Regardless of residency location, participants showed an improved WAZ (P = .021) and HAZ (P  < .001) in the 2017 study year. We found no sex differences.

Discussion and Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest that a mixed‐subsistence diet may confer advantages over an exclusive wild food diet, a trend also reported among other transitioning foragers.


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