University of São Paulo: Consumption of bushmeat brings health benefits to riverside children in the Amazon

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Little is known about the effects of bushmeat consumption on the health and nutrition of human populations that inhabit forests such as the Amazon. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports, led by postdoctoral fellow Patricia Carignano Torres, from the Graduate Program in Modeling Complex Systems at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH) at USP, investigated the relationship between the intake of this type of food and the prevalence of anemia in children from six months to five years of age in the Brazilian Central Amazon. The results showed that eating paca, tapir, wild pig and poultry meat more frequently, for example, is associated with a higher concentration of hemoglobin in the blood – which provides partial protection for this population. However, the researchers caution that this should not be the only solution to eliminating anemia. Investments in health, sanitation and education were also recommended.
A total of 610 children from 1,111 households located up to 250 kilometers (km) from the nearest urban center participated in the study. Parents or guardians answered a questionnaire about health and consumption habits. In addition, a blood hemoglobin concentration test was performed to verify the presence or absence of anemia.

protective paper
In riverside communities, four out of five children aged one to two years eat bushmeat more often and about a third of them were anemic. In the city, there are two out of five and, in rural households, the intake can be up to four times higher.

Elevated hemoglobin levels were associated with increased meat consumption from land animals. The protective role of this protein seems to occur only in vulnerable households, which are those that commonly have the worst health indicators. In riverside communities, where the diet is also composed of fish, protection against anemia was partial.

Meat is a source of iron and the deficiency of this nutrient is the main cause of anemia and disability in children under five in the world. This deficiency impairs physical and mental development, affecting health and well-being from childhood to adulthood.


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The research points out that a more viable strategy would be to invest in the promotion of sustainable management of the fauna, carried out by the riverside rural communities themselves. This could ensure the conservation of hunted animals and, at the same time, provide access to iron-rich sources of animal protein for vulnerable populations in the region.

Despite this, access to bushmeat should not be seen as the only solution to eliminate anemia in these populations. According to the study, it is also necessary to invest in health, basic sanitation and education, since the riverside people of the Amazon suffer from a series of other deficiencies that interact with this problem.

The authors of the published article are Patricia Carignano Torres and Carla Morsello, from the Modeling Program in Complex Systems at EACH-USP; Jesem Orellana, from Fiocruz; Oriana Almeida, from the Federal University of Pará; independent researchers André de Moraes, Moises Pinto, Maria Fink and Maira Freire; and finally, Erik Chacon-Montalvan and Luke Parry, from Lancaster University, the latter being the project coordinator. More information can be found in the article Wildmeat consumption and child health in Amazonia , published on the Scientific Reports website on April 6.

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