Early man became dependent on one or two crops and ate a less diverse diet.
ScienceDaily (June 18, 2011) — When populations around the globe started turning to agriculture around 10,000 years ago, regardless of their locations and type of crops, a similar trend occurred: The height and health of the people declined.
"This broad and consistent pattern holds up when you look at standardized studies of whole skeletons in populations," says Amanda Mummert, an Emory graduate student in anthropology.
Mummert led the first comprehensive, global review of the literature regarding stature and health during the agriculture transition, to be published by the journal Economics and Human Biology.
"Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier," Mummert says. "But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet."