Earlier Holocene diet and lifestyle shaped past and present global health and well-being

Clark Spencer Larsen, Gwen R. Schug, Mark Stoneking, George R. Milner, Cecil M. Lewis, Linda Fibiger, Jessica Pearson, Jay T. Stock

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The world began to change in fundamental ways beginning at the Late Pleistocene-Holocene boundary 10,000-12,000 years ago with the transition to and the later intensification of farmed resources, especially wheat in Western Asia and Europe, maize in North America, and rice in East Asia. The bioarchaeological record documents a global trend of challenges to health and wellbeing, lifestyle, behavior, conflict, and demographic outcomes of elevated and increasing birth rates over the course of the Holocene. These challenges include a continuous increase in human population from 10 million to the present-day 8 billion, mostly living in sedentary, densely crowded communities. These transitions provided the social and behavioral contexts for intercommunity competition, the appearance and rise of organized warfare, promotion of migration, and the presence, success, and expansion of older and newly emerging pathogens and the infectious diseases they cause (e.g., tuberculosis, coronavirus disease, leprosy, tuberculosis, treponematosis, plague, cholera) among other post-Pleistocene challenges that have shaped the world we live in today. This integrative analysis reveals ongoing trends documented in the records of paleopathology, stable isotopes, pathogen and human genomes, body mass and stature, interpersonal violence, demographic transitions, migration, and the behavioral contexts and consequences of the most impactful dietary and behavioral transitions in human evolution. The global dependence on dietary plant carbohydrates will continue to have profound implications for human health and wellbeing. The associated circumstances are rooted in the origins of foodways that fuel population growth, health, and behavioral outcomes now and into the foreseeable future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event93rd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists - United States, Los Angeles
Duration: 20 Mar 202423 Mar 2024


Conference93rd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists
CityLos Angeles
Internet address


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