Health In Focus
  • Physical inactivity is an important global health issue.
  • Decrease in physical activity is associated with overweight and metabolic disorders.
  • But the physical activity patterns in the indigenous population of Brazil were not studied enough.
  • A study was conducted to see the physical activity patterns and association with socio-economic factors in a systematic way in the indigenous Xavante population of Brazil.
Regular exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Physical Inactivity Patterns in Indigenous Xavante Population of Brazil
Physical Inactivity Patterns in Indigenous Xavante Population of Brazil

Physical activity benefits healthy individuals, people who are at risk of developing chronic diseases and in people with chronic disabilities. Physical activity can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. It also helps to improve mental health, bone strength, muscle strength, functional capacity and longevity.

Physical inactivity is regarded as an important global health issue for its strong association with the non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Physical inactivity stands 4th among the leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases. The industrial revolution led to the nutritional transition and reduced physical activity in conjunction with the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

In Brazil, since the mid-1970s, the nutrition transition and distinctly uneven distribution of obesity and chronic diseases according to the socio-economic conditions were documented. In the recent physical activity pattern surveys in Brazil, they found a low proportion of physically active adults.

Excess weight is more prevalent in the indigenous population of Brazil than the non-indigenous population. Many studies have documented the elevated frequencies of overweight and metabolic disorders in the indigenous Xavante community and associated them with a decrease in the physical activity and increase in the consumption of carbohydrates and fats. Even the previous ethnographic research in the Xavante community suggests that the changes in the diet and physical activity pattern contribute to change in the body composition. But the physical activity patterns were not directly studied systematically in the indigenous population.

Therefore, a study was recently conducted to find the patterns of the physical activity patterns in the two Xavante villages of Brazil.

The study population included 211 adults with age greater than equal to 18 years from the two Xavante villages, Pimental Barbosa and Etênhiritipá from Pimental Barbosa Indigenous Reserve, Mato Grosso State, Brazil. The brief version of International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to obtain the regular physical activity details. They also asked questions about the schooling, source of income, employment, alcohol and smoking consumption frequencies, non-traditional food consumption and presence of durable industrial goods. The body weight and stature were also measured.

They used IAPQ committee scoring protocol in calculating the individual physical activity scores. BMI was calculated in Kg/m2. For the assessment of the association between the variables, bivariate and multivariate analyses were used.

The results showed 17.5% prevalence of physical inactivity among the indigenous population. Overweight and obesity rates were 52.1% and 21.8% prevalent respectively. The prevalence of inactivity was more among males (22.4%) than females (14.4%).

Also, the rates were higher among older individuals above 60 years of age and in people who had television at home. But, inactivity rates were found to be lesser among people who had household gardens.

Physical inactivity prevalence is 31.1% globally, 49.2% in Brazil and 17.5% in the indigenous Xavante population of Pimental Barbosa and Etênhiritipá of Brazil. Many studies conducted in the urban population of Brazil showed an association between physical inactivity and high body mass index, age and socioeconomic level.

The study highlighted that physical inactivity was more prevalent among elderly Xavante individuals. It's because of their decreased participation in daily activities such as gardening, collecting, hunting, and fishing.

Thus, the study concludes that physical inactivity was less prevalent among the Xavante from Pimentel Barbosa and Etênhiritipá villages than the national population, even though they are shown to suffer from higher rates of excess weight.

No significant association was detected between the physical activity and BMI in this study. It could be due to overestimation of the activity levels using the short form of IPAQ, brief period of field research and failure to record the seasonal variation in the activity levels. Hence, it demands the need for further research among the Xavante population to find the association between the physical activity, diet and health outcome.

References :
  1. Lucena, J.R.M., et al., Prevalence of physical inactivity and associated socioeconomic indicators in indigenous Xavante communities in Central Brazil. BMC Nutrition, 2016. 2(1): p. 1-10.
  2. Hallal, P.C., et al., Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. Lancet, 2012. 380(9838): p. 247-57.
  3. Physical Activity and Its Many Benefits - (
Source: Medindia

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