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Überblick über zehn Jahre historisch-anthropometrische Forschung in der Schweiz: Säkularer Trend, soziale und regionale Unterschiede in der mittleren Körperhöhe und -form seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts


Staub, Kaspar; Woitek, Ulrich; Pfister, Christian; Rühli, Frank J (2012). Überblick über zehn Jahre historisch-anthropometrische Forschung in der Schweiz: Säkularer Trend, soziale und regionale Unterschiede in der mittleren Körperhöhe und -form seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts. Bulletin der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, 18(2):37-50.

Abstract

Only ten years ago the New Anthropometric History started to explore the steadily changing body morphology in Switzerland during the last 200 years. A positive secular height trend began in the birth years of the 1870s. The 19-years-old Swiss conscripts gained a total of 15 cm in average height until nowadays, the increase in stature is also observable in adult male and female passport applicants, convicts, women voluntarily serving in the Swiss Army and schoolchildren at all ages all over Switzerland. The phenomenon remains to be satisfactorily explained. Among other clustering co-factors massively improving living conditions (nutrition, disease environment and physical work loads) may also be responsible for the secular height trend. In recent decades, the height increase rates have markedly slowed down, all of the factors contributing have yet to be identified. In contrast to height, the trend in average weight did not slow down down but accelerated. Since the end of the 1980s, the Swiss are no longer getting taller, but constantly more and more overweight and obese. Overall, the Swiss example may demonstrate the mismatch between the evolved biology of the human body and modern life: the survival advantages of the ability to store fat in the unstable agrarian society became a disadvantage in modern times. Today, a complex of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors are at work that both limit height growth and promote body breadth and overweight.

Abstract

Only ten years ago the New Anthropometric History started to explore the steadily changing body morphology in Switzerland during the last 200 years. A positive secular height trend began in the birth years of the 1870s. The 19-years-old Swiss conscripts gained a total of 15 cm in average height until nowadays, the increase in stature is also observable in adult male and female passport applicants, convicts, women voluntarily serving in the Swiss Army and schoolchildren at all ages all over Switzerland. The phenomenon remains to be satisfactorily explained. Among other clustering co-factors massively improving living conditions (nutrition, disease environment and physical work loads) may also be responsible for the secular height trend. In recent decades, the height increase rates have markedly slowed down, all of the factors contributing have yet to be identified. In contrast to height, the trend in average weight did not slow down down but accelerated. Since the end of the 1980s, the Swiss are no longer getting taller, but constantly more and more overweight and obese. Overall, the Swiss example may demonstrate the mismatch between the evolved biology of the human body and modern life: the survival advantages of the ability to store fat in the unstable agrarian society became a disadvantage in modern times. Today, a complex of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors are at work that both limit height growth and promote body breadth and overweight.

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Additional indexing

Other titles:Overview over 10 years of anthropometric history in Switzerland: The secular trend, regional and socioeconomic differences in body height and shape since the 19th century
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:German
Date:2012
Deposited On:06 Mar 2014 13:26
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:44
Publisher:Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Anthropologie
ISSN:1420-4835
Related URLs:http://www.anthropologie.ch/d/Publikationen/

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