Chapter 11: Physical health:
• When a footstep evidence was discovered, we say that monkey ▯ now were bipedal. Becoming bipedal freed the hands to make
tools and carry food, it cooled our bodies (less SA for light to hit), improve our long distance travelling efficiency.
• However, when one is making conclusion about what the feet of the modern human are like, we need to consider whose feet’s are
we examining as those what walk on shoes vs. no shoes have differences.
• Shape of your feet can also be seen as cultural product. For example since wearing or not wearing shoes changes our shoes, then
if culture permits wants us or not wants us to wear sandals will change our bodies as well (i.e. the tarahumara runners that
participate in long distance running barefoot have different feet as a results then compare to person who wears shoes)
• Thus, psychological variables are clearly linked to our physical health/body. They can effect both the human biology and various
aspects of our health.
Biological Variability of Human: Two categories for variation in human biology▯ the innate and the acquired.
Genetic Variation across Population
• Humans in different parts of the world were subject to different selection pressure over generations resulting in human genome
diverging; there are innate biological differences
• There is less genetic variability across the different races of humans that there is across different populations of chimps.
• More over, there is more genetic variation withinAfricans then Africans and ot others cultural background.
• In sum, humans compared with other species are less genetically distant from each other but different populations of humans do
differ from each other in many of genes.
• Skin colour▯ most compelling explanation for the difference in the skin colar is in the body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D
which isnecessary for intestines to absorb Ca and P; can’t synthesize unless shortwave ultraviolet radiation (UVR) penetrates the
skin but too much UVR is bad. ( dark▯ you are getting too much UVR specially where a lot of light areas)
• Need melanin in skin so sufficient UVR can penetrate but not too much( so you get black skin to reflect is out)
• Amount of UVR reaching earth’s surface predicted 70-77% of skin reflectance
• Exceptions support the link- Inuits have darker skin than predicted (i.e. they have low UVR in that region we expect lighter skin
to absorb more); due their diet which is high in Vitamin D thus they don’t require as much UVR catalysis
• Skin color is an example of the adaptive response to climatic differences among populations. Thus geographical differences
shape the genetic makeup.
• But we also have Instances of cultural factors shaping the genotype- e.g. cultural practice of dairy farming led to the selection of
lactase persistence (i.e. you have milk▯ better if you are lactose persistent rather then intolerant)
• Diet can affect genetic makeup of our body. Increase carbohydrates▯you will have more mutations that increases amylase▯ to
break it more down.
• Chinese▯genetically can’t become alcoholics vs. Europeans (perhaps due to boiled water drinking and beer by Europeans when
their was dirty water)
• African tribe▯resistant to malaria due to the there cultural practice of farming▯a lot of mosquitoes▯ overtime you become resistant
• Can culture experience play a role in having different psychological process (parent and child grown in different culture have
different psychological response even genes are the same).
• But important to note that relationship between genes and psychologies is very complex. But we can be sure that cultural experiences can shape how genes are expressed in body (KoreanAmerican▯ more similar toAmerican then Koreas even though
the genes are the same)
Acquired Physical Variation across Cultures
• people in different cultures have experiences within their lifetime that impact their biology
• Moken, sea nomads in Southeast Asia- children have more than twice the underwater visual acuity of European childrenlikely
not a genetic adaptation as it is acquired through practice and anyone can.
Obesity and Diet
• The rate of obesity vary across culture ( samoe a lot fat. Most likely cultural explanation rather then genes)
• Dramatic rise across the world in the past few decades may be because of greater reliance on high-calorie foods, less active
• “French Paradox”, a diet rich in fats in France yet lower rates of heart disease and are thinner
• Rozin suggest that the French eat significantly fewer calories per day because their cultural environment affects portion sizes and
attitudes towards food
• Variety of foods in individual servings are larger in the US, international chain
• Restaurants serve larger portions in US; quantities in cookbooks are also larger.
• The difference in attitude can also play a role French also view eating as a more leisurely and enjoyable activity, they tend to
spend more time eating; food is expected to be savoured ( healthy to eat slow).
• We want to eat food that “appears to be healthy” like 80%American females report eating more products with fat removed but
only 35% ofAmericans claim to be healthy eaters vs French ( 77% say they are).
• American women have the most negative attitudes toward food
• 1) Free association to “food”, most common amongAmerican women was “fattening” ( this did not occur for French)
• 2) When did the face study where the face larger features represent more positive attitudes towards fodo,American woman have
strikingly negative attitudes towards food ( very small face) vs French ( have big faces). But female in all cultures tend to be a bit
smaller faces then men.
Culture and Height
• 1865,American men averaged 5’8”, Dutch men averaged 5’5”; today, American men average 5’10”, Dutch men average 6’1”
genes are not a good explanation for this perhaps it's the diet.
• Late 19 century, US had the 3 highest GNP in the world, the Dutch were in an economic slump, as it recovered and
increased, the average height increased accordingly.
• Wealth brings a healthier diet; people are more able to get vitamins and nutrients at critical growth periods. Like Japanese after
the WWII increased bt 5” as more meat and milk was available to them
• However, averageAmericans have stopped growing taller as incomes improve
• One theory is that teenage habits of eating fast foods are depriving them of crucial growth-related nutrients • Another explanation is that income inequality is greater resulting in poor diets for poorerAmericans, pulling down then national
• America receives more immigrants from where they were historically shorter▯ NOT good explanation.
Culture and health: Socioeconomic Status and Health
• Unskilled laborers are more likely to die then compare to a executive of company within in 10 year periodincome is really
important for health.
• Those with high SES live longer.
• (Wilkinson, 1994) with almost every increase in income, mortality rates drop even among those incomes at the highest levelSES
very strong correlate of health/life
• this is not limited to industrialized world. For example, (Wallace & Wallace, 2002) three ethnic groups of Burkina Faso: Fulani,