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The recent decline in the height of African-American women

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  • Komlos, John

Abstract

Height trends since World War II are analyzed using the NHANES surveys for US-born individuals stratified by gender, ethnicity and income. After stagnating or declining for nearly a generation, the height of adult white men and women began to increase among the birth cohorts of ca. 1975-1986, who reached adulthood between 1995 and 2006. The increase in their height overcame the prior downturn that lasted between ca. 1965 and 1974. The height gap between white and black men has increased by 0.43Â cm (0.17Â in.) during past decade compared to the previous quarter century, to reach 1.0Â cm (0.39Â in.). In contrast to the three other groups examined, the height of black women has been actually declining by some 1.42Â cm (0.56Â in.). Consequently, a very considerable wedge has developed between black and white women's height of 1.95Â cm (0.77Â in.). In addition, black women in the age range 20-39 weigh some 9.5Â kg (21.0Â lb) more than their white counterparts. Two hypotheses are worth considering, namely, (a) that the decline in their height is related to the obesity epidemic and to inadequate dietary balance, and (b) that their future health will be subject to a double jeopardy in the sense that both their increasing weight and decreasing physical stature are likely associated with negative health consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Komlos, John, 2010. "The recent decline in the height of African-American women," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 58-66, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:8:y:2010:i:1:p:58-66
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Juliet Elu & Gregory Price, 2013. "Ethnicity as a Barrier to Childhood and Adolescent Health Capital in Tanzania: Evidence from the Wage-Height Relationship," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 25(1), pages 1-13.
    2. Perelman, Julian, 2014. "Are chronic diseases related to height? Results from the Portuguese National Health Interview Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 56-66.
    3. Carson, Scott Alan, 2011. "Height of female Americans in the 19th century and the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 157-164, March.
    4. karina Acosta & Adolfo Meisel, 2012. "Ethnic Groups and Anthropometric Differences in Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 009913, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    5. Averett, Susan L. & Stacey, Nicholas & Wang, Yang, 2014. "Decomposing race and gender differences in underweight and obesity in South Africa," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 23-40.
    6. Acosta, Karina & Meisel, Adolfo, 2013. "Anthropometric measurements by ethnicity in Colombia, 1965–1990," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 416-425.
    7. Finch, Brian Karl & Beck, Audrey N., 2011. "Socio-economic status and z-score standardized height-for-age of U.S.-born children (ages 2-6)," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 272-276, July.
    8. Sunder, Marco, 2011. "Upward and onward: High-society American women eluded the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 165-171, March.
    9. Do, D. Phuong & Watkins, Daphne C. & Hiermeyer, Martin & Finch, Brian K., 2013. "The relationship between height and neighborhood context across racial/ethnic groups: A multi-level analysis of the 1999–2004 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 30-41.
    10. Delajara, Marcelo & Rodríguez-Segura, Melissa, 2010. "Why are Mexican American boys so much taller now?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 212-222, July.
    11. Murasko, Jason E., 2013. "Associations between household income, height, and BMI in contemporary US schoolchildren," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 185-196.
    12. Karina Acosta & Adolfo Meisel, 2012. "Ethnic Groups and Anthropometric Differences in Colombia," Borradores de Economia 731, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    13. Perkins, Jessica M. & Khan, Kashif T. & Smith, George Davey & Subramanian, S.V., 2011. "Patterns and trends of adult height in India in 2005-2006," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 184-193, March.
    14. Tucker-Seeley, Reginald D. & Subramanian, S.V., 2011. "Childhood circumstances and height among older adults in the United States," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 194-202, March.
    15. Abu Dalou, Ahmad Yosuf, 2016. "Height of Northern Jordanian middle-class adults, born 1960–1990 in the response to improving socio-economic conditions," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, pages 155-160.

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