Seeds of economic disparity in self-sufficient societies

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No millionaire lives among the Bolivian people of Chimane, but some live a little wealthier than others. These self-sufficient communities on the edge of the Amazon are industrialized. There are also fewer chronic health problems associated with dramatic economic disparities, such as those found in Western societies.

For journal research E-life, A research team led by Aaron Blackwell of Washington State University and Adrian Jeggi of the University of Zurich tracked 13 different health variables in 40 Chimane communities, with respect to each person’s wealth and the degree of inequality in each community. And analyzed them. Some have theorized that inequality, Health effects Although universal, researchers have found two definitely related results: elevated blood pressure and respiratory illness.

“The relationship between inequality and health is not as simple as it is in an industrialized population. We have had many complex results,” said Blackwell, an associate professor of anthropology at WSU. These findings suggest that inequality is not at a level that causes health problems at this scale. Health problems Because it is different from any inequality we have ever experienced. Evolutionary history.. “

Anthropologists are particularly interested in the study of the Chimanes, as the traditional way of life of the Chimanes closely resembles the conditions under which humans have lived for centuries before modern times. The Chimanes eat very little processed foods. Instead, they feed, hunt, fish, and grow crops. In addition, they exercise well throughout their daily lives and have few health conditions associated with modern society such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Because they do not have access to the latest medical care, they have to fight parasites and many respiratory illnesses, from colds to pneumonia.

Since 2001, a team of healthcare professionals and researchers have visited these communities each year to provide care and collect data as part of a larger Chimane Health and Life History project. For this study, Blackwell, Jaegi, and their colleagues were able to analyze data from different time points up to 2015.

The Chimane community is smaller and more equal than most industrialized societies, but some are more unequal than others. Researchers have found that some health variables, such as the classification of obesity index, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression, are not clearly associated with imbalance.

However, in highly unequal communities, many had higher blood pressure, whether above or below the economic pecking order, compared to peers in the less stratified community. The highest blood pressure was in poor Chimane men, no matter where they lived.

“Basically, being poor is bad, but being poor is also bad,” Jegi said. “If you feel that your life is worse than others, it can be stressful. In Western industrialized societies, as COVID-19 shows, there are many things like high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, infectious diseases, etc. It is related to negative health outcomes. In the Chimane community. We have found some negative effects of living in a more unequal community, but not all outcomes. Therefore, it does not seem to be a universal pattern. “

The study did not include the effects of COVID-19 because it was done before the pandemic, but researchers found an association between increased risk of respiratory illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia and inequality. The authors stated that, unlike Western society, there was no clear association with stress, so it is unclear what the exact mechanism of that association is.

Blackwell also noted that although hypertension was found in more unequal communities, it did not develop into worse conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, which are more prevalent in industrialized societies.

“I think this study shows us that there are some seeds of why inequality is bad for us, even in a relatively equal society with no major economic differences,” he said. Said, “So if we probably want to increase health Next try to reduce for everyone inequality One route to do that. ”

The lifestyle of Chimane indigenous groups may hold the key to delaying aging

For more information:
Adrian V Jaeggi et al, Is wealth and inequality associated with health in a small, self-sufficient society ?, eLife (2021). DOI: 10.7554 / eLife.59437

Journal information:

Quote: Seeds of economic health inequalities found in self-sufficient societies (June 1, 2021) June 1, 2021, Obtained from subsistence.html

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Seeds of economic disparity in self-sufficient societies

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