Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology



First Committee Member

Daniel Benyshek, Chair

Second Committee Member

Debra L. Martin

Third Committee Member

Heidi Swank

Fourth Committee Member

David Himmelgreen

Fifth Committee Member

John Tuman

Number of Pages



This thesis examines maternal diet in a rural, transitional community in Costa Rica. Using cross-cultural categories recognized in the ethnographic literature (i.e. dietary taboos, dietary prescriptions, food cravings and the acknowledgment of a special post-partum period diet), maternal dietary practices were identified in the local community through surveys (n=45) and participant-observation (n=5), and to reflect the actual consumption patterns of pregnant and nursing women in the area, 24-hour diet recalls were administered to 5 pregnant or nursing women. In light of the recent changes that increased tourism has brought to the Monteverde Zone, focus groups were employed to determine impacts on maternal diet. Results show that maternal diet has changed to include more "western" foods like French fries and Coca Cola. The majority of women in the sample admitted to being overweight during pregnancy and identified weight gain during pregnancy and the inability to lose weight post-parturition as two problems frequently experienced by women in the community. Results also revealed that although there is an overwhelming reliance on the local clinic for information about diet and nutrition during pregnancy and nursing (versus a more traditional source, such as family), women in the sample felt that they have not received beneficial information from this source. Dietary delocalization and prevalence of overweight and obesity among women in the community have potential implications for the developmental origins of obesity-related disorders, and the miscommunication between the clinic and local community reveals that further research in this community is warranted.


Costa Rica; Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; Developmental origins of obesity-related disorders; Maternal diet; Maternal health; Obesity; Pregnancy — Nutritional aspects


Biological and Physical Anthropology | Maternal and Child Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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