For Women In Poor Nations, Average Height Is Shrinking

A new study by Harvard researchers shows that the average height of poor women in developing countries has declined in the past two decades. Average height is often used as an indicator of nutrition, disease and poverty levels within a society.

Wealthier populations tend to be taller because they can afford access to health education and better medical resources. Children from a higher socioeconomic bracket are less likely to suffer from poor health and malnutrition — factors that can stunt growth.

The study found that average height has fallen among women in 14 African nations and stagnated in 21 additional countries across Africa and South America. Data gathered from Demographic and Health Surveys polled 365,000 adult women in 54 poor and middle-income countries.

Via New York Times:

Only women ages 25 to 49 were included to avoid counting those young and growing, or old and shrinking. Women from Senegal and Chad were the tallest, while those from Guatemala and Bangladesh were the shortest.

The study found that the richest 20 percent of women in all the countries surveyed have grown. Those born in the 1940s averaged 5 feet 1 1/2 inches; those born in the 1980s averaged 5-foot-2.

Those in the poorest 20 percent averaged 5-foot-1, no matter what decade they were born in. Guatemala and Honduras had the biggest gaps in height between rich and poor women; Uganda and Ethiopia had the smallest.

S.V. Subramanian, a Harvard professor and the study’s lead author, draws a sobering conclusion from the data. “[T]he world is not getting to be a better place for women of lower socioeconomic status. For them, it’s getting worse.”


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Congress’ War on Women, the Global Edition


Photo credit: Scott Akerman


Bernadette P.
Berny p6 years ago

LESS children ...better news there!

Preeti M.
Preeti M.6 years ago

Documentary - "Unacceptable India: A Reporter's Account" reveals that India is a growing world power and a nation to reckon with, but hunger deaths are still gnawing at its roots. This report puts together 20 years of stories from across the country where farmers have committed suicides or children are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. India is in the list of top five powerful countries but the inside story is still the worst. I personally thinks that government should take useful and powerful remedies to end up the problem of malnutrition and starvation.

To watch please visit -

Aparna A.
Aparna Amrita6 years ago

surprising research results.

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

Thanks noted it need further research

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare6 years ago

I thought the whole world is shrinking :S

Ernest R.
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Steven Walle and AbdulAziz A—Perhaps you live on another planet ? China has had to cut food exports to have enough for home consumption. This is partly due to droughts and/or floods that our planet is experiencing with increasing severity, as in Russia, that could not export wheat as usual. Food production in western Canada was devastated by floods. US grain surplus stores are nearly exhausted. Overpopulation also plays a part. The Philippine Islands no longer can export rice as rice paddies have been replaced by “development”.Politics also plays a part. Subsidised US grain previously sold in Third World countries at less than production costs, wiped out local farmers. Where do you get your information?

Erth G.
Erth G.6 years ago

Is this society you are refering to based in your home country India? This is all pretty vague and offers so many gaps and makes no sense. Looks more like philosophy.....

Gloria C.
gloria c6 years ago

the world is a better place for some not many.

PJ Granieri
.6 years ago

Marie since your unable to have a child you are arrogant an ignorant to say such a statement...this is the USA they are talking about in the future if Republicans get their way by defunding Wic an Planned Parenthood ...Go Obama...2012 oh yeah

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

If women did not have children, they would not be in such danger.