Traci Bekelman
Student: Biological Anthropology

Traci is a PhD student who studies variation in nutritional status among urban Latin American women. For her dissertation, she will investigate how diet and body size vary between women of low- and high-socioeconomic status in San José, the capital city of Costa Rica.

Based on limited data from Latin America, it appears that obesity is increasingly concentrated among women of low-socioeconomic status in urban areas. Little is known, however, about the diet of urban Latin American women or how diet varies by socioeconomic status. Traci’s dissertation will provide insight into the dietary causes of an understudied trend in developing countries, rising body size among low-SES women. The methodological tools used in her dissertation research will include weighed food records, anthropometry, qualitative interviewing and a Geographic Information System (GIS).

In March 2013, Traci carried out a pilot study for her dissertation in San José. This pilot study included the collection of dietary data from 30 women and interviews with 16 women regarding their ideal diets and the types of challenges they face in obtaining and preparing food for their families.