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Human stature and development with special reference to Indian population

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posted on 2019-01-09, 14:12 authored by Rajesh K. Gautam, Dipak K. Adak, P. Bharati, K.S. Mathur, Jyoti Jhariya, Pardeep Kumar, Sarabjit MastanaSarabjit Mastana
Background: Variation in human height around the globe as well as within a specific region or population is considered as reflection of health, wellbeing and long and short term adaptations. Human height is determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors particularly diet and healthcare plays a significant role. Undernutrition during early childhood leads to stunting and poverty is one of the important causes of undernutrition. Still, it was reported that human height has steadily increased over the past two centuries across the globe. This trend is in line with general improvements in health and nutrition during this period. Historical data on heights tends to come from soldiers (conscripts), convicted criminals, slaves and servants. It is for this reason much of the historical data focuses on men. Recent data on heights uses additional sources including surveys and medical records. Here, the primary objective is to understand the variation of height around the globe with special reference to Indian population and to assess the relationship with human development index (HDI) and stature. Material and Methods: For present investigation three dataset on stature were analyzed from three different databases. Primarily, the investigation is based on anthropometric data collected on adult males of 18+ years of age belonging to 118 caste/tribe/ethnic/religious groups residing in 161 districts of 14 states of Indian Union. The data was collected by the trained physical anthropologists of Anthropological Survey of India, following standard techniques using standard instruments. Measurements were taken on adult apparently healthy males. Efforts were also made to exclude closely related individuals. Verbal informed consent was obtained from the study participants and they were illustrated in detail about the study objectives. A total of 43952 adult males were measured for height. The representative samples were drawn from each of the district of the states. To achieve the goal of representative sample, data was collected from different caste/tribe/religious group residing in every particular district and state. These states covered for present investigation are homeland of 759 million populations, which is 62.7% of the total population of India. The second database is based on two consecutive anthropometric surveys conducted in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh (Central India). The first survey was part of Anthropometric survey conducted by Anthropological survey during 1970s. The second one was conducted during 2006 which was limited to 5 ethnic/caste/religious groups. To understand the global variation and predictors of human stature, country-wise average heights were obtained from across the globe. To understand the secular trend and predictors of human stature the data on country-wise average stature around the globe was collected. Simultaneously, data on Human Development Index (HDI) were obtained to understand the impact of development on adult Human Stature. Results: There is wide variation in stature of adult male and females around the globe on the basis of ethnic origin, geographical location, climate and socio-economic conditions. On the basis of Indian data, it was found that ethnic and regional variation in adult human stature is predominated by their ethnic origin.The tribes (ST) have shortest stature (161.45±5.95 cm) followed by scheduled castes (SC), other backward castes (OBC), Jain, Muslims and General Castes (GC). The Sikhs are tallest in India with an average height of 169.09±6.59 cm. Besides caste and occupation, nutritional status was also found to be determinants of adult stature. Significant regional variation in stature was observed in India with Meghalaya males being shortest and Haryana and Punjab males being tallest in this dataset. The regression analysis was computed to find out the role of development in determining the stature around the globe. Conclusion: Variation of human height is modulated by both genetic makeup and environment predictors. Adult stature is an outcome of nutrition and health care available during infancy, childhood and adolescence. Income, occupation, caste (Indian), ethnicity, climate, geo-political environment and development etc. are main determinants of human stature. In Indian context PanHindu caste stratification is one of the predominant determinants of stature.



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OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development






49 - 68


GAUTAM, R.K. ... et al, 2018. Human stature and development with special reference to Indian population. OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, 11 (9), pp.49-68.


Ontario International Development Agency © The authors


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This paper was published in the journal OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development and is also available at http://www.ssrn.com/link/OIDA-Intl-Journal-Sustainable-Dev.html.




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