For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"To the hunter go the spoils? No evidence of nutritional benefit to being or marrying a well-reputed Hadza hunter"

by Stibbard-Hawkes, Duncan N E; Attenborough, Robert D; Mabulla, Ibrahim A; Marlowe, Frank W (2020)


OBJECTIVES: The incentives underlying men's hunting acquisition patterns among foragers are much debated. Some argue that hunters preferentially channel foods to their households, others maintain that foods are widely redistributed. Debates have focused on the redistribution of foods brought to camp, though the proper interpretation of results is contested. Here we instead address this question using two nutritional variables, employed as proxies for longer-term food access. We also report on broader patterns in nutritional status. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We measured male hunting success, hemoglobin concentration and body fatness among bush-living Hadza. Hunting success was measured using an aggregated reputation score. Hemoglobin concentration, a proxy for dietary red meat, was measured from fingerprick capillary blood. Body fatness, a proxy for energy balance, was measured using BMI and bioelectrical impedance. RESULTS: We find no statistically significant relationship between a hunter's success and any measure of his nutritional status or that of his spouse. We further find that: women are, as elsewhere, at greater risk of iron-deficiency anemia than men; men had slightly lower BMIs than women; men but not women had significantly lower hemoglobin levels than in the 1960s. DISCUSSION: The absence of an association between hunting reputation and nutritional status is consistent with generalized food sharing. Null results are difficult to interpret and findings could potentially be a consequence of insufficient signal in the study measures or some confounding effect. In any event, our results add to a substantial corpus of existing research that identifies few nutritional advantages to being or marrying a well-reputed Hadza hunter.


Bmi, Food Sharing, Hemoglobin, Hunter-Gatherers, Hunting Reputation



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