Linear Body Proportions: An Alternative Measure of Human Health and Development

Solveig Argeseanu, University of Pennsylvania
Jan Van den Broeck, Africa Center for Health and Population Studies
Banyana C. Madi, University of Southampton

This review paper explores linear proportionality and its relation to health and socio-economic conditions in humans. Taking a global and secular view, we draw out trends in linear proportions in human growth, bringing together evidence of the past trajectory and expectations for the future. These trends are largely attributable to nutritional and socio-economic improvements, though the mechanisms might be more intricate than is generally appreciated. For example, they may have been triggered by improvements in conditions decades before. Linear proportionality is an issue that cannot be ignored in public health. Congenital or acquired proportionality disorders are not rare and affect wellbeing and development. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that childhood leg length shows a stronger association than overall height with adult mortality from cancers and coronary heart disease, suggesting that it is worthwhile to further explore links between linear proportionality and health outcomes.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging