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How do Men and Women Cope with Energetic Constraints in their Environments? Discuss with Reference to Specific Examples and Discuss both Biological and Social Responses.

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Introduction

How do Men and Women Cope with Energetic Constraints in their Environments? Discuss with Reference to Specific Examples and Discuss both Biological and Social Responses. Siobhan Enisto Hatfield College Energetic requirements are present in all humans at all times in the form of physical activity levels and basal metabolic rate. Energy constraints can come in the form of a heavy workload, insufficient dietary intake and in women the constraints imposed by pregnancy and lactation. In affluent societies these are relatively easy to accommodate as most people can afford to eat a sufficient amount of food and maintain energy balance. However, in some societies a great deal of energy expenditure is required in order to produce food that may not be sufficient to balance energy requirements, as well as having to combat seasonal shortages, therefore coping strategies that involve biological and social adaptations are needed to ensure survival. In some areas of the world this makes life a constant up-hill struggle where different energy constraints can have profound effects on morbidity, mortality, fecundity, fertility, body weight, physical work productivity and well-being. ...read more.

Middle

These biological changes are combined with behavioural measures such as minimal work during periods of increased energetic stress (seen in pregnant and lactating women), reduction in food consumption and use of famine foods, reliance on social networks, temporary migration or nomadism, and use of religious practices to reduce anxiety and increase well-being (guru and guru walla in Gambia). For women the main energy constraints in Third World countries are associated with pregnancy and lactation combined with intensive work and under nutrition, these are combated using both biological and social responses. Pregnant and lactating women in many Third World countries have to continue subsistence activities during pregnancy and lactation. Shostak says of !Kung women in Botswana, "Many women maintain their normal work routines until the day they give birth. Pregnancy is thought as a given; it is 'women's work'". (Shostak, 1990:178 in Panter-Brick & Pollard, 1999: 153) Women are able to accommodate to this type of energy constraint biologically by reducing resting metabolic rate, reducing progesterone levels and utilizing fat stores gained during pregnancy. ...read more.

Conclusion

In undernourished women in Gambia fat used during lactation is directly related to how much fat has been gained during pregnancy. In Guatemalan women fat tissue mobilisation supplied all the energetic costs of lactation rather than increases in dietary intake as in well-nourished women (Frisancho, 1993: 393). The effectiveness of these biological responses can be seen in the fact that dietary intake of pregnant and lactating women in Third World countries can be 24% and 34% lower than their western counterparts yet pregnancy is still successful (Frisancho, 1993: 391) Biological responses are more efficient when combined with behavioural change during pregnancy and lactation for women experiencing energetic stress. Although many women in Third World countries work throughout pregnancy and lactation their work commitments can be manipulated to reduce energy expenditure. Gambian women reduce Seasonality of crops causes energy constraint differentials at different times of the year. Social changes towards a more westernised society have introduced new ways of accommodating seasonal change as well as undermining more traditional coping strategies among the Massa and Mussey of Chad and Cameroon. 1 ...read more.

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