!Kung nutritional status and the original "affluent society" - a new analysis
The theme of the 2011 meetings of the German Anthropological Society, “Biological and Cultural Markers of Environmental Pressure, provides the entree to revisit one of Anthropology's most enduring canons - hunters and gathers are well-nourished and healthy. The Dobe !Kung foragers of the Kalahari Desert often serve as a model of hunter-gatherer adaptation for both extant and Paleolithic humans. A re-analysis of food intake, energy expenditure, and demographic data collected in the 1960s for the Dobe !Kung finds that their biocultural indicators of nutritional status and health were, at best, precarious and, at worst, indicative of a society in danger of extinction. Hunting and gathering is the lifestyle to which the human species was most persistently adapted, in terms of the biological, cultural, and emotional meanings of the word 'adapted.' However, the few remaining foraging groups studied in the 20th Century are unlikely to serve as the ideal models of that ancient way of life.