NAP: Nuñoa Anthropologic Project

Nora taking a patient's blood pressure




Assistant Professor Of Anthropology

Project Summary

The Nuñoa Anthropological Project had numerous goals. The first goal was to explore the impact of recent economic and nutritional transitions on the health of the population. The composition of adult and infant microbiome will be examined in order to determine the relationship between nutrition, microbiome, and health indicators.  Changing economic activity in Nuñoa, a high-altitude region in the Andes, has affected the nutritional environment (Hoke 2017).  Dried blood spots were collected and a survey was given to determine how the nutritional change effects ideas of good eating practices and health (Hoke 2018).  Anthropometric measures (height, weight, skinfolds, waist, and hip circumference) were conducted to compare to past data from the 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s.  Many people in the area face the dual burden of malnutrition due to chronic undernutrition and improper diet, which can manifest as a lack in linear growth and as obesity (Hoke 2017).  The data collected this summer will allow us and the local government to consider the efficacy of the most recent welfare programs designed and implemented to improve population health.

I learned the importance of appreciating the culture around me, the gender differences, and the healthcare in the US. Nuñoa had a magical friendliness about it in which everyone greeted each other in passing, and we, the strangers, were welcomed.  For example, when my fellow researchers and I went to a celebration of the New Year of Nuñoa, people made space for us, let us participate in the new year ceremony, and shared all of their rich food.  I noticed significant gender differences in the town.  During the day, women are usually alone or with their children, and there are no men to be seen unless they are working at construction sites.  Lastly, the US is very lucky to have the access to healthcare we do. For example, women are fined if they do not give birth in the health center, but the women must attend and bring food to nutrition classes and go to prenatal appointments in order to give birth in the Nuñoa health center. Also, the center closes early, so if a woman needs to give birth in the evening, she must do so at home or take an hour bus ride to the nearest hospital.

Not only was the Nuñoa Project very interesting and fun, but it was also educational because I learned about a new culture in a field which with I have very little experience, anthropology.  I was able to practice taking blood pressures, body measurements, and blood tests, which is excellent training for my future career in nursing.  Additionally, I improved my Spanish speaking, and I now want to continue taking classes so I can become fluent.  My interest in anthropology as a minor, or maybe even a major, is piqued because I like the way the field treats people as people instead of data points.  This is similar to how nurses also treat patients as people, not as the illnesses they have. Finally, this experience reminded me how much I love travel and allowed me to meet amazing people.


Hoke MK. Economic activity and patterns of infant growth in a high-altitude district of Peru. Am

J Hum Biol. 2017;29:e23038. https://doi. org/10.1002/ajhb.23038

Hoke MK. Social and Behavioral Sciences Human Research Protocol Template: Microbiome

and Health Assessment in the rural, high altitude district of Nuñoa, Peru. 2018.