The height of humans has traditionally been related to good nutrition, health and optimal living conditions. Genetics also plays a role. However, a study published in American Journal of Human Biology shows how stunting is a natural condition in all kinds of populations, even in wealthier social strata that have the necessary basic care. christiane scheffler, a human biology researcher at the University of Potsdam, and one of the authors of the study, argues that what determines height, provided that the person has the necessary nutrition, are other factors such as social, political and emotional environment.
The methodology of the study has been based on the review of archaeological data (almost 6,100 skeletons), studies of historical growth that cover from 1877 to 1913 in European countries and in the United States and a study of Indonesian children between 6 and 13 years old. . The sample consisted of 1,666 students from six rural and urban schools. This country, which this study confirms is among the first 20 places on the list according to the World Bank’s gross domestic product (GDP), has subpopulations due to its geographical location. It is not considered a poor country. Another important component of Indonesia is that it has a child stunting prevalence of 37.2%.
This research shows that prehistoric Holocene man from the Near East and Europe had a height that did not exceed 165-170 centimeters in men, while women did not exceed 160 centimeters between 10,000 and 1000 BC. C. Currently, according to information on the portal World Data, the average height of men between 18 and 25 years old in Spain is 176 centimeters, while women reach 162. Mexicans are, in general, shorter with an average of 170 centimeters in men and 157 centimeters in women .
European and American children up to World War I were short. In addition, the scientists found no evidence that children who lived between the late 19th and early 20th centuries had clinical signs of malnutrition, and maternal health and nutrition, as well as early childhood care, were considered appropriate for The time. Stunting prevailed regardless of economic wealth and living conditions. For example, of the upper-class children studied in Hamburg in Germany in 1879, half of them, considering their age, were so short in stature that they had to be considered stunted.
As for Indonesian schoolchildren, the results show that they are also short and thin, although they found small differences between different areas. However, no reason was found to explain her thinness, but neither were clinical signs of malnutrition or chronic disease. In addition, they found no correlation between the degree of thinness and the economic potential of the family.
Another aspect that is considered in the research, and confirmed by the data, is that the prevalence of growth retardation in those with optimal nutritional conditions, “depends on the connection and absorption of the Western lifestyle.” Carlos Varea, a bioanthropologist at the Autonomous University of Madrid, defends that it is conceivable that, in some populations, they have grown more than in others because they could have an environment of greater economic tranquility, without having to depend on crops or traditional means of subsistence. “This makes them grow in more stable environments and that is what enhances growth. This contact with cultures favors this forecast of a better future”.
In addition, this researcher emphasizes the importance of emotional factors, which the author also contemplates, which are transmitted in the family and community. “The potential to grow is the same for everyone, but there are limiting nutritional factors, cold, child and emotional effort, violence or abuse that limit that growth,” he explains. An example of these limitations could be observed in African-American populations, where the perception of racism and discrimination also affects growth, which could be higher if it were not present.
An aspect that has hardly been touched upon in this study, but which makes up other works, is the genetic issue. In 2014, a published research in charge of an international team of scientists, and that involved up to 300 institutions, and whose sample was made up of the genomes of 250,000 people. The main results are identified 697 genetic variants that influence the height of a person.
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