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Decrease in Average Height of Adults in India Alarming: Study

lonelyman

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Decrease in Average Height of Adults in India Alarming: Study
Non-genetic factors like food intake, standard of living and health care play a big role in determining height.
Newsclick Report

25 Sep 2021
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The average height of adults in India is declining as against an increase in average heights worldwide. The situation is alarming, pointed out a recent study titled ‘Trends of adult height in India from 1998 to 2015: Evidence from the National Family and Health Survey’.

“In the context of an overall increase in average heights worldwide, the decline in average height of adults in India is alarming and demands an urgent enquiry. The argument for different standards of height for the Indian population as different genetic groups needs further scrutiny,” the authors of the study said. However, the trends from India clearly underline the need to examine the non-genetic factors and also to understand the interplay of genetic, nutritional and other social and environmental determinants on height, they added.

To trace the trends of height among adults in India, the authors conducted quantitative secondary data analysis to explore the variation in height. The data on height on a large scale is collected under the erstwhile National Nutritional Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

In the 15-25 age group, the mean height of Indian women showed significant improvement between NFHS-II and NFHS-III. However, between NFHS-III and NFHS-IV, their average height declined by 0.12 cm. Between NFHS-III and IV, tribal women in the same age group showed a significant decline in their average height by 0.42 cm. The average height of women in the poorest wealth index category was observed to have suffered a significant decline.

The average height of Indian men in this age group has significantly declined by 1.10 cm between NFHS-III and IV. The decline in average height was observed across religious group, caste or tribe, residence and wealth index.

The state-wise trends of average height of men in 15-25 age group find only men from Nagaland showing significant improvement in their average height. Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Mizoram also showed improvement in the average height of men while rest of the states exhibited decline.

Height is widely accepted and recognised as one of the key measures of physical well-being and biological standard of living at the population level. In addition to genetic potential, other factors such as socio-economic condition, disease history, access to quality health services, and nutritional security have a significant bearing on human stature, according to the study.

“The role of nutrition over stature, however, has had a long and contested history among nutritionists, policymakers and health professionals. In India, the debate was recently fuelled by Dr [Arvind] Panagariya’s argument on stunting and subsequent critiques of it by various scholars. Evidently, much of this scholarship on stunting and height has focused on children,” the authors said. But “little attention has been paid to adult height, a more or less constant phenomenon having a higher potential for exploration of determinants”, they added.

The authors pointed out that genetic, environmental and social factors influence height. Although it is claimed that genetic factors determine 60%–80% of the final height, environmental and social factors contribute significantly to the realisation of that potential. The genetic potential in this case refers to an optimum level of height achievable in ideal conditions.

“An individual’s realisation of the given genetic potential is a reflection of food intake as well as availability, accessibility and effectiveness of health care services during the growing period. It is well established that the attained height of an individual is an embodiment of nutritional status and other determinants traced from womb to late adolescence,” the study stated.

Several studies in economics, health and nutrition demonstrate the relationship between gross domestic product, per capita expenditure on food, net nutritional intake, disease occurrence and stature. The authors said: “Adequate nutrition is closely linked with an individual’s achievement of his/her genetic potential of height growth. The impact of nutrition on height gain can start as early as foetal life. Malnutrition during infancy, especially stunting around puberty, significantly affects the final height gain in adulthood.”

On the other hand, “overall change in factors such as nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, transport and income have been found to positively impact height and weight gain among Indian schoolchildren. The international study of childhood poverty found the Mid Day Meal programme to have improved both stunting and underweight”.

According to the study, deficits in final height or the failure of realisation of genetic potential of a population ultimately reflect prior nutritional stress, which is conditioned by social and environmental factors over time. Socioeconomic factors, like household characteristics (number of siblings, occupation, class and locality, etc.), have a bearing on human stature. Caste is another social factor that shapes different socioeconomic determinants and consequent inequality across different aspects of life in India.

Data from NFHS-IV showed strong and significant correlation between average adult height and social category. The average height of people belonging to the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste category were found to be shorter than Other Backward Classes and others. Moreover, across all these categories, the richest in the wealth index had the highest mean height while the poorest had the lowest, clearly signalling the role of class, the study showed.

“Analysis of NFHS III data shows higher socioeconomic status to be associated with greater height and greater secular increase in height. So far as gender is concerned, over time, the average heights of both Indian males and females have improved but the improvement was higher in males compared to females.”

According to the authors, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, the role of genetic factors has often been used to downplay the role of food intake, standard of living and health care, especially in countries like India. The role of socioeconomic and environmental factors is left out of the equation.

The authors raised questions like “what is the genetic potential for height in Indian population?” Is it different for other countries or population groups? Are we achieving that genetic potential? What factors shape realisation of the given genetic potential?

The authors concluded that “the trends from India clearly underline the need for examining the non-genetic factors to understand and find solutions to these disturbing trends”.

what's happening in modi's supa powa la la land?
 

Indos

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Then you can go to China to check it out like the girl in the video, it'll be way more accurate, and also the global height index rankings were not made by China.
Why dont you show us video inside Mall in China

This is Mall in South Jakarta


Bogor Botanical Garden, West Java

 

waz

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India has always been at the very bottom for lowest average height in the world. The thing to work towards is improving or at least maintaining it.
Diet plays a major role.
 

MH.Yang

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Why dont you show us video inside Mall in China

This is Mall in South Jakarta


Bogor Botanical Garden, West Java

This is the shopping center of Xiamen, a third tier city in China. Xiamen is in Fujian Province in southern China. Fujian is one of the provinces with the shortest per capita height.

 

Dungeness

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This is the shopping center of Xiamen, a third tier city in China. Xiamen is in Fujian Province in southern China. Fujian is one of the provinces with the shortest per capita height.

At 3:05, the girl is really tall.
 

serenity

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Aging population in China is still short of course like from the past they had no access to nutrients as much as young people.

When I am in China, the young kids are TALL like the boys even in southern states average around 180cm it seems but of course there are short and extra tall. I think in 30 years to 50 years the stats of Chinese average height for boys will easily be around 178cm or up. The average of 175cm is skewed because huge aging population and young population is much smaller in comparison to aging population.

Chinese cuisine however don't have much dairy unlike Japan but already will catch up to JApan's height and this is counting the 70% population size which grew up before 1980s. Even without dairy it should match Japan's. Younger generations however do consume dairy like Pakistanis. Indian cuisine has similar less dairy. If Indians consumed much more meat and dairy they would be about Pakistani height.

All these height averages don't just show a bit of genes but trends show economic development.

Some African countries even though low nutrient intake still has higher than European average heights. That would be genetics. But China's average height for men going from 165cm to 175cm in roughly 70 years is more showing economic development and what genetic potential is. Even now though 70% of the people accounted have grown up during famine and poverty.

I think a very accurate snapshot of height would just be measuring 18 to 30 year olds and then compare snapshot and compare trends. Since many Asian countries only developed in the last 50 years or so.

I bet if we only perform study on 18 to 30 year olds, China's male average height is at least European level since 70% of males for achieving just 175cm average is like 160cm to 170cm central bell curve's interquartile ranges. Even counting all the 70% of 160cm to 170cm, China's average is 175cm according to actual western academic records and studies. Imagine leaving out those 70%. In comparison, European standards of countries with low immigration from poor nations should be similar for the last 50 years at least. The only ones that reduced is because of immigration from a period when these immigrants were short and malnourished.

Of course India's avg height also will increase from 160s if we take out their older people but I think their trend is less impressive and obvious although increase should be expected. However with this new recording of reducing heights, that is strange. Maybe to do with Hindu practices and less consumption of meats and dairy in the last 10 years?
 
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Indos

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This is the shopping center of Xiamen, a third tier city in China. Xiamen is in Fujian Province in southern China. Fujian is one of the provinces with the shortest per capita height.

Thank you bro, actually my mother and younger sister have been to China, end of 2019, just before the pandemic. They went to Beijing, Great Wall, and others. I just hear their description after they get home...:D
 

MisterSyed

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5'8 is i think a Cap, i am literally 15 yet around 5'7 which in my class is not the highest all of my mates are either 5'8 or 7 hell we even have a gigantic 6'3 Guy in our class 🤣🤣
 

MH.Yang

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Thank you bro, actually my mother and younger sister have been to China, end of 2019, just before the pandemic. They went to Beijing, Great Wall, and others. I just hear their description after they get home...:D
I have been to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. If I have a chance, I also want to go to Indonesia.
 

Sainthood 101

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That's not true at all,the tallest people in the world 100 years ago was the British with average height near 5 ft 6-7.


That's not average height of Pakistani/India/bengali men . That paper is about a thesis regarding the relation of height for offspring with the ethnicity of the father.
yeah I know that's why I said next best thing - which is the height of fathers by their ethnicity

like I said no true height calculation was ever conducted (reason for me pointing towards a diaspora group) that was my estimate seeing the older generation
regular people in my experience in cities were 5'7-5'8 and people in rural areas taller than that

so it was an estimate because no reliable data ever came out of Pak (if someone has access to it hook me up)
I'm talking about GD,general duty ,meanwhile you are pointing out some particular branch like Military police corp as if it's the norm,Pakistan can't sustain a military with that.
"According to the United States Army official site for recruiting, the height range for new recruits starts at 5’0 and ends at 6’8 for men and 4’10 to 6’8 for women. This is the range specified on the Army official site that displays its height and weight calculator. The minimum age for these requirements is 17."

you cant judge heights like this
 
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