THE NEXUS OF YANOMAMÖ GROWTH,
HEALTH, AND DEMOGRAPHY
Raymond Hames & Jennifer Kuzara
Our goal in this chapter is to provide a synthetic overview of studies on Yanomamö health from an ecological perspective, with a special emphasis on emerging medical problems that are primarily a consequence of recent contact with non-Yanomamö. As we shall document, throughout most of their recent history the Yanomamö can be characterized as a highmortality and high-fertility population that has been subjected to a variety of infectious and parasitic diseases common to other Amazonian populations. Ecologically, these illnesses appear to be the primary factors limiting Yanomamö population growth. Our goal is to begin an assessment of the degree to which diet and disease affect Yanomamö growth and development and morbidity and mortality rates. Just as important, we hope to document the consequences of the introduction of novel diseases on an already highly parasitized people and the steps the governments of Brazil and Venezuela are taking to regulate contact with outsiders and how they are responding to introduced diseases.
We begin with a description of Yanomamö anthropometrics and diet. The Yanomamö are one of the smallest people in all of Amazonia. The cause of their short stature as well as some interesting variation among Yanomamö populations is unknown. In the 1970s a number of anthropologists (e.g., Gross 1974; Harris 1977) suggested that the Yanomamö