Household-level strategies for protecting children from seasonal food scarcity

William R. Leonard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Although it has been widely argued that children are most severely affected during periods of food scarcity, there is little quantitative data to support this claim. The present study uses dietary intake and anthropometric data from the Andean community of Nuñoa, Peru to evaluate age-related differences in the impact of and responses to seasonal variation in food availability. Children ages 12 years and under experience smaller seasonal fluctuations in energy intake and have a more adequate pre-harvest diet than adults. Anthropometric measures (weight-for-age and skinfold thicknesses) also indicate better nutritional status in children. Protection of children against severe pre-harvest stress is important because (1) they are more vulnerable to nutritional deprivation and (2) they make substantial contributions to household production. Gender differences, however, are not apparent as nutritional adequacy is comparable in males and females. Protection of children against nutritional stress represents just one of a suite of adaptive responses to limited pre-harvest food availability exhibited within this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1133
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991


  • Andes
  • Peru
  • adaptation
  • nutritional stress
  • seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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