Wildmeat consumption and child health in Amazonia

Torres, Patricia and Morsello, Carla and Orellana, Jesem D. Y. and Almeida, Oriana and De Oliveira Moraes, Andre and Chacon Montalvan, Erick and Pinto, Moisés and Fink, Maria and Freire, Maíra and Parry, Luke (2022) Wildmeat consumption and child health in Amazonia. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Consuming wildmeat may protect against iron-deficiency anemia, a serious public health problem globally. Contributing to debates on the linkages between wildmeat and the health of forest-proximate people, we investigate whether wildmeat consumption is associated with hemoglobin concentration in rural and urban children (< 5 years old) in central Brazilian Amazonia. Because dietary practices mediate the potential nutritional benefits of wildmeat, we also examined whether its introduction into children’s diets is influenced by rural/urban location or household socio-economic characteristics. Sampling 610 children, we found that wildmeat consumption is associated with higher hemoglobin concentration among the rural children most vulnerable to poverty, but not in the least vulnerable rural, or urban children. Rural caregivers share wildmeat with children earlier-in-life than urban caregivers, potentially because of cultural differences, lower access to domesticated meat, and higher wildmeat consumption by rural households (four times the urban average). If wildmeat becomes unavailable through stricter regulations or over-harvesting, we predict a ~ 10% increased prevalence of anemia among extremely poor rural children. This modest protective effect indicates that ensuring wildmeat access is, alone, insufficient to control anemia. Sustainable wildlife management could enhance the nutritional benefits of wildlife for vulnerable Amazonians, but reducing multidimensional poverty and improving access to quality healthcare are paramount.

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Journal Article
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Scientific Reports
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23 Aug 2022 15:10
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18 Sep 2023 02:03