Water turnover among human populations: Effects of environment and lifestyle.

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OBJECTIVES:To discuss the environmental and lifestyle determinants of water balance in humans and identify the gaps in current research regarding water use across populations. METHODS:We investigated intraspecific variation in water turnover by comparing data derived from a large number of human populations measured using either dietary survey or isotope tracking. We also used published data from a broad sample of mammalian species to identify the interspecific relationship between body mass and water turnover. RESULTS:Water facilitates nearly all physiological tasks and water turnover is strongly related to body size among mammals (r2=0.90). Within humans, however, the effect of body size is small. Instead, water intake and turnover vary with lifestyle and environmental conditions. Notably, despite living physically active lives in conditions that should increase water demands, the available measures of water intake and turnover among small-scale farming and pastoralist communities are broadly similar to those in less active, industrialized populations. CONCLUSIONS:More work is required to better understand the environmental, behavioral, and cultural determinants of water turnover in humans living across a variety of ecosystems and lifestyles. The results of such work are made more vital by the climate crisis, which threatens the water security of millions around the globe.





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Swanson, Zane S, and Herman Pontzer (2020). Water turnover among human populations: Effects of environment and lifestyle. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 32(1). p. e23365. 10.1002/ajhb.23365 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21131.

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Herman Pontzer

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

How did the human body evolve, and how does our species' deep past shape our health and physiology today? Through lab and field research, I investigate the physiology of humans and apes to understand how ecology, lifestyle, diet, and evolutionary history affect metabolism and health. I'm also interested in how ecology and evolution influence musculoskeletal design and physical activity. Field projects focus on small-scale societies, including hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers, in Africa and South America. Lab research focuses on energetics and metabolism, including respirometry and doubly labeled water methods.

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