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The height of women in Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of health, nutrition, and income in childhood
Source: Annals of Human Biology, July–August 2007; 34(4): 397–410
Topic(s): Infant mortality
Women's height
Country: Africa
   Multiple African Countries
Published: JUL 2007
Abstract: Background: Adult height in individuals has been linked to health and nutrition in childhood, and to health outcomes in later life. Economists have used average adult height as an indicator of the biological standard of living and as a measure of health human capital. However, it is unclear to what extent childhood health and nutrition are reflected in adult height at the population level. Aim: The study examined the proximate determinants of population adult height for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Subjects and methods: A database was created of adult female height for 24 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for birth cohorts born between 1945 and 1985. The present study examined the effect of infant mortality rate, GDP per capita, and average protein and calorie consumption on cohort adult height. Results: Most of the variation in height across countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is due to fixed effects; however, it was found that variations in cohort height over time are sensitive to changes in infant mortality rate, GDP per capita, and protein intake, both at birth and in adolescence. Conclusions: Changes in cohort adult height over time in Sub-Saharan Africa are related to changes childhood health and nutrition, although variation across countries appears to be determined mainly by unexplained fixed factors. Keywords: Infant mortality, nutrition, women’s height, stature, Sub-Saharan Africa