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Anthropological Perspectives on the Health Transition

Elsevier Inc.
DOI: 10.1016/b978-012373960-5.00150-7
  • Coinfection
  • Dietary Change
  • Emerging Infectious Disease
  • Epidemiological Transition
  • Globalization
  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Noncommunicable Disease
  • Old Infectious Disease
  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The health transition is used to refer to the transitions in morbidity and mortality from infectious to noncommunicable disease, as a consequence of medical interventions and improvements in material conditions of living. Anthropologists and other social scientists have illustrated, however, that epidemiological trends are influenced by cultural, social, and behavioral determinants of health. These factors, with variations in the physical environment, have led to the continued prevalence of infectious disease concurrent with a rise in chronic and degenerative conditions. In this article, I discuss how anthropology has contributed to our understanding of health transitions, using specific diseases, conditions, and contexts to highlight the variable causes, understandings, and responses to such changes.

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