Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Height and health   posted by Razib @ 8/14/2007 03:49:00 PM

Height, health, and development:
...This paper investigates the environmental determinants of height across 43 developing countries. Unlike in rich countries, where adult height is well predicted by mortality in infancy, there is no consistent relationship across and within countries between adult height on the one hand and childhood mortality or living conditions on the other. In particular, adult African women are taller than is warranted by their low incomes and high childhood mortality, not to mention their mothers' educational level and reported nutrition. High childhood mortality in Africa is associated with taller adults, which suggests that mortality selection dominates scarring, the opposite of what is found in the rest of the world. The relationship between population heights and income is inconsistent and unreliable, as is the relationship between income and health more generally.

From what I recall in modern countries height is about 80% heritable (the proportion of within population variation is controlled by genes). Obviously this is probably going to be lower in less developed nations.

Related: An article in The Washington Post talking about the tall Dutch again. Has anyone thought to check the height in the Dutch areas of southwest Michigan? Whites seem smaller in many east coast or southern cities than in the Pacific Northwest (e.g., Boston and New Orleans). I assume my perception has to do with the ethnic mix, since the Pacific Northwest has fewer "ethnic" whites than other parts of the country, and a disproportionate number of the ethnics are Scandinavian ("everyone in Ballard is Norwegian").

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