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    Divergent trajectories of BMI over age for adult Baka Pygmy people and their sympatric non-Pygmy populations

    Funk, Stephan M, Palomo Guerra, Belén, de Mena Martinez, Natalia, Ickowitz, Amy and Fa, Julia E ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3611-8487 (2020) Divergent trajectories of BMI over age for adult Baka Pygmy people and their sympatric non-Pygmy populations. Human Ecology, 48 (2). pp. 143-153. ISSN 1464-5653

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    Abstract

    Differences in socioeconomic conditions and health have been reported for African Pygmies and their sympatric populations of other ethnic groups. We collected anthropometric data in southern Cameroon from Baka and their Bantu neighbours, and also extracted from the five available and representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in sub-Saharan Africa countries that hold Pygmy peoples..Our results show that in our Cameroon study, the Baka exhibited a weak but significant decline of BMI with age (p=0.003) without a sex difference. At a larger geographical scale, sll five DHS surveys revealed flat or negative slopes for Pygmy BMI with age. Except for one non-Pygmy ethnic group, the slope was less than for all DHS surveyed non-Pygmy African ethnicities. Pygmy populations were the least wealthy in all surveys, but no pattern for anaemia levels versus BMI emerged. We argue that the declining or stagnant trajectory of Pygmy BMI over age is most concerning, since this sets them apart not only from all other ethnic groups in the region, but from the general trend of increasing body weight over age. We suggest that our results do not reflect the influence of ethnicity per se, but the fact Pygmy populations are socially and materially deprived groups. These findings are fully aligned with the extraordinary high premature death rate among the Baka and need to be addressed for sustainable development.

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