Nutritional status of Maya children, their mothers, and their grandmothers residing in the City of Merida, Mexico: Revisiting the leg-length hypothesis

Authors

  • Hugo Azcorra,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Global Health and Human Development, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
    • Correspondence to: Hugo Azcorra, Centre for Global Health and Human Development, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, United Kingdom. E-mail: h.s.azcorra-perez@lboro.ac.uk

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  • Maria Inês Varela-Silva,

    1. Centre for Global Health and Human Development, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
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  • Luis Rodriguez,

    1. Facultad de Matemáticas, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Yucatán, México
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  • Barry Bogin,

    1. Centre for Global Health and Human Development, School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
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  • Federico Dickinson

    1. Departamento de Ecología Humana, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Cinvestav), Unidad Mérida, Mérida, Yucatán, México
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Abstract

Objectives

To test the hypothesis that leg length-relative-to-stature is a more sensitive indicator of nutrition and health than is total height (HT) or sitting height (SH) in a sample of 109 triads of urban Maya children (6.0–8.99 years), their mothers, and maternal grandmothers from Merida, Mexico.

Methods

From September 2011 to June 2012, the following factors were obtained from all participants: (1) HT, SH, and leg length (LL); (2) the sitting height ratio (SHR = [SH × 100]/HT), relative leg length index (RLLI = [LL × 100]/height), and percentiles and z-scores of HT, SH, and LL were calculated; and (3) the percentages of stunting for children or very short ZHT for the adults, short ZSH, and short ZLL: HT-for-age, SH-for-age, or LL-for-age below the 5th percentile of the reference were calculated. Correlations were performed to examine the association between z-scores of HT, SH, and LL among three generations.

Results

Stunting in children was 11% (short ZLL = 29%, short ZSH = 7%). Short ZHT was present in 71% of mothers (short ZLL = 54%, short ZSH = 50%) and 90% of grandmothers (short ZLL = 69%, short ZSH = 83%). Significant correlations in ZHT, ZSH, and ZLL were found in mother-to-child and grandmother-to-mother, with the strongest correlations for ZLL.

Conclusions

These findings support the hypothesis for children and mothers. Based on ZLL, there is evidence that childhood and nutrition have improved somewhat for each younger generation. Persistent environmental adversity during growth resulted in growth deficits for LL and SH for the mothers and grandmothers. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 25:659–665, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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