Young Shuar differs from most Western children in different ways, however, including their genetics, that it was challenging to interpret the findings of that study, Drs. Urlacher knew. But they also knew that a more-than-comparably group of children only had long-haul canoe rides, which moved to a nearby market town near the Shuer families. His children attended school regularly and bought food items but remained Shuar.
Therefore, for the latest study, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition in January, he and his colleagues obtained permission from Shuar families, both rural and relatively urban, to provide anatomy and energy expenditure among their 77 children. To measure properly. Ages 4 and 12, while keeping an eye on their movements with the accelerometer and collecting data about what they ate.
Urban Shure children proved to be significantly heavier than their rural counterparts. Nearly a third were overweight by World Health Organization norms. There were none of the rural children. Urban children were also generally more sedentary. But not all children, rural or urban, active or not, burned about the same calories every day.
What was different was their diet. Children in the market town ate more meat and dairy products than rural children, with new starches, white rice and highly processed foods such as candy. In general, they ate more and more modernly than rural children, and this was the diet, Dr. Urlacher and his colleagues concluded, which contributed most to their high weight.
These findings were attributed to the forest dweller or hunter-gatherer lifestyle, Drs. Urlacher’s caution should not be romantic. Rural, traditional Shure children often face parasites and other infections, as well as in large part, as their bodies seem to be stripping away and increasing the calories available for other important tasks, Drs. Urlacher believes.
But the results indicate how much children eat, how much they have an impact on body weight, how much they move, he says, an insight that is directed toward any attempt to counter childhood obesity Must begin.
“Urlacher says,” Exercise is still very important for children for all sorts of reasons. “But maintaining physical activity may not be enough to combat childhood obesity.”