Rhonda Gilett-Netting

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Rhonda Gillett-Netting, Amber Perry. 2005. Gender and nutritional status at the household level among Gwembe Valley Tonga children, 0-10 years Short Report. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 17:372-375, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721

email: Rhonda Gillett-Netting (gillnet@email.arizona.edu)

  • Correspondence to Rhonda Gillett-Netting, University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, Haury 210, P.O. Box 210030, Tucson, AZ 85721

Abstract Gender bias usually favors males, yet among the matrilineal Gwembe Tonga of Zambia, females appear to receive preferential treatment. It is hypothesized that children in polygynous households will have increased levels of malnutrition due to the dilution of resources. Further, if gender bias is observed, it will favor females. The presence of preferential treatment during preadolescence is assessed by measuring physical status in the household. Monogamous or polygynous status of households is considered in this analysis of 188 children of age 0-10 years. The sample, 63 households from two rural villages, includes 47 females and 49 males in monogamous households and 52 females and 40 males in polygynous households. Comparisons of nutritional status are made with -2.0 SD as indicative of stunting (height-for-age), wasting (weight-for-height), and chronic underweight (weight-for-age). Boys have better nutrition in monogamous households - 40.8% stunted and 24.5% underweight compared to 62.5% stunted (P = 0.021), 42.5% underweight (P = 0.036) in polygynous households. Female stunting does not differ significantly by household type (40.4% monogamous, 42.3% polygynous). Low levels of wasting in either sex regardless of household type were observed. Girls have better physical status than boys in polygynous households, thereby supporting our combined hypotheses and demonstrating gender bias in pre-adolescents.

See:Thayer Scudder