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A Biocultural Framework for Examining Maternal Cravings and Aversions among Pastoral Women in East Africa

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Food preferences during pregnancy result from a complex set of biocultural interactions with important implications for maternal and child health. This article explores the social context of maternal food choice in marginal environments of East Africa. Biocultural data collected among Turkana and Datoga women living in Kenya and Tanzania indicate there is a significant social context to food choice that influences the types of food that women report craving and the food that is consumed. Our framework argues for a deeper understanding of how culture shapes food preferences and how marginalization can constrain access to favored and healthy foods.

Keywords: African pastoralism; anthropology of food; biocultural approach; cravings and aversions in pregnancy; nausea and vomiting in pregnancy; pregnancy outcomes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology,University of Florida, Gainesville,Florida, USA 2: Department of Anthropology,University of Arizona, Tucson,Arizona, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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