May 4, 2002
6:15 PM   Subscribe

Homeless street kids in 3rd world countries adapt to survive and are actually healthier and more likely to survive than are their peers who grow up in poor but intact families in agricultural villages. Experts confounded.
posted by stbalbach (7 comments total)
An urban, populated area offers more opportunites for scavenging, however unsavory they may be; ie dumpster diving, begging, prostitution, petty crime. In a city there are more scraps to dive for, is the sad truth. As the article references though, the pychosocial costs of these activites will be wreaking havoc on these kids and their societies for years to come, so I wouldn't celebrate just yet.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on May 4, 2002

I remember reading in Guns, Germs and Steel that ancient hunter-gathers were generally healthier than their farming contemporaries. So maybe part of the explanation is not that being an urchin is easier that one would expect, but that being a farmer is a lot harder, particularly without the hi-tech tools of modern agriculture.
posted by boltman at 7:13 PM on May 4, 2002

Glass half full -- other than the "murder and sexual exploitation part," they're fat [enough] and happy.
posted by sheauga at 7:28 PM on May 4, 2002

I'm not sure, given the scant info about methodology. Could this instead reflect that the weaker kids are simply more likely to survive in families, and the weaker kids on the street die or end up removed from the street environment by other means?
posted by dhartung at 7:41 PM on May 4, 2002

boltman, this is what I thought of also when i read the article. My old history professor was of the conviction that man reached his apex with hunter gatherer and has been in decline since the advent of agriculture. Theres also evidence that life expetency was actually higher pre-agriculture then post-agriculture (untill about 300 years ago).
posted by stbalbach at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2002

So the kids that managed to survive their first 5 years and navigate life on the streets suffuciently well to make it into a street school and the study weren't remarkably stunted in their growth compared to American standards? There doesn't seem to be references to any kinds of controls on this finding and he doesn't even compare the group to neighboring farm kids. Anthropology PhD's aren't held to the same standards as medical studies.
posted by dness2 at 10:22 AM on May 5, 2002

Timothy Sullivan of the University at Buffalo measured body mass index (BMI)--the ratio of weight to height--in 50 Guatemalan street children ages five to 15.... Although the study subjects were shorter and weighed less than American children of similar ages, their BMI scores were comparable.

We've proven street urchins are not overweight? Bully for us!
posted by ilsa at 10:29 AM on May 5, 2002

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