Estimation of secular trends in adult height, and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in three Eastern European populations
The objective of these analyses was to estimate the strength and direction of secular trends in adult height and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in eight towns in three Eastern European countries in the mid-20th century, and to assess the extent to which childhood conditions might explain the height differences. We used cross-sectional data from the baseline survey of the Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors in Eastern Europe (HAPIEE) study, conducted in 2002-2005. The study examined 24,012 men and women born between 1933 and 1957, randomly selected from the general populations of Novosibirsk (Russia), Krakow (Poland) and six towns of the Czech Republic. To allow for age-related height loss we estimated maximum attained height. Parental education and household item ownership at age 10 were used as markers of childhood socioeconomic conditions. In all 5-year birth cohorts, Novosibirsk men and women were shortest. There were positive and statistically significant secular trends in childhood conditions and in maximum adult height. Adjustment for childhood conditions explained about one third of the trend in height. There appeared to be a small reduction in height of persons born during the Second World War which was, however, only significant in Novosibirsk. These results suggest that secular trends in height mirror, but are not wholly explained by, trends in socioeconomic circumstances in early life.
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