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Am J Hum Biol. 2009 May-Jun;21(3):337-45. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20864.

Year-round high physical activity levels in agropastoralists of Bolivian Andes: results from repeated measurements of DLW method in peak and slack seasons of agricultural activities.

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  • 1Department of Human Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.


By the repeated use of the doubly labeled water method (DLW), this study aimed to investigate (1) the extent of changes in energy expenditure and physical activity level (PAL) in response to increased agricultural work demands, and (2) whether the seasonal work demands induce the changes in the fairly equitable division of work and similarity of energy needs between men and women observed in our previous study (Phase 1 study; Kashiwazaki et al., 1995: Am J Clin Nutr 62: 901-910). In a rural small agropastoral community of the Bolivian Andes, we made the follow-up study (Phase 2, 14 adults; a time of high agricultural activity) of the Phase 1 study (12 adults; a time of low agricultural activity). In the Phase 2 study, both men and women showed very high PAL (mean+/-SD), but there was no significant difference by sex (men; 2.18 +/- 0.23 (age; 64 +/- 11 years, n = 7), women; 2.26 +/- 0.25 (63 +/- 10 years, n = 7)). The increase of PAL by 11% (P = 0.023) in the Phase 2 was equally occurred in both men and women. The factorial approach underestimated PAL significantly by approximately 15% (P < 0.05). High PAL throughout the year ranging on average 2.0 and 2.2 was attributable to everyday tasks for subsistence and domestic works undertaking over 9-11 h (men spent 2.7 h on agricultural work and 4.7 h on animal herding, whereas women spent 7.3 h almost exclusively on animal herding). The seasonal increase in PAL was statistically significant, but it was smaller than those anticipated from published reports. A flexible division of labor played an important role in the equitable energetic increase in both men and women.

(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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