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The impact of physical connectedness on body height in Swiss conscripts


Hermanussen, Michael; Alt, Christoph; Staub, Kaspar; Assmann, Christian; Groth, Detlef (2014). The impact of physical connectedness on body height in Swiss conscripts. Anthropologischer Anzeiger, 71(4):313-327.

Abstract

Background: Human populations differ in height. Recent evidence suggests that social networks play an important role in the regulation of adolescent growth and adult height. We further investigated the effect of physical connectedness on height.
Material and methods: We considered Switzerland as a geographic network with 169 nodes (district capitals) and 335 edges (connecting roads) and studied effects of connectedness on height in Swiss conscript from 1884–1891, 1908–1910, and 2004–2009. We also created exponential-family random graph models to separate possible unspecific effects of geographic vicinity.
Results: In 1884–1891, in 1908–1910, and in 2004–2009, 1st, 2nd and 3rd order neighboring districts significantly correlate in height (p < 0.01). The correlations depend on the order of connectedness, they decline with increasing distance. Short stature districts tend to have short, tall stature districts tend to have tall neighbors. Random network analyses suggest direct road effects on height. Whereas in 1884–1891, /i>direct road effects were only visible between 1st order neighbors, direct road effects extended to 2nd and 3rd in 1908–1910, and in 2004–2009, also to 4th order neighbors, and might reflect historic improvements in transportation. The spatial correlations did not significantly change when height was controlled for goiter (1884–1889) and for median per capita income (2006), suggesting direct road effects also in goiter-allowed-for height and income-allowed-for height.
Conclusion: Height in a district depends on height of physically connected neighboring districts. The association decreases with increasing distance in the net. The present data suggest that people can be short because their neighbors are short; or tall because their neighbors are tall (community effect on growth). Psycho-biological effects seem to control growth and development within communities that go far beyond our current understanding of growth regulation.

Abstract

Background: Human populations differ in height. Recent evidence suggests that social networks play an important role in the regulation of adolescent growth and adult height. We further investigated the effect of physical connectedness on height.
Material and methods: We considered Switzerland as a geographic network with 169 nodes (district capitals) and 335 edges (connecting roads) and studied effects of connectedness on height in Swiss conscript from 1884–1891, 1908–1910, and 2004–2009. We also created exponential-family random graph models to separate possible unspecific effects of geographic vicinity.
Results: In 1884–1891, in 1908–1910, and in 2004–2009, 1st, 2nd and 3rd order neighboring districts significantly correlate in height (p < 0.01). The correlations depend on the order of connectedness, they decline with increasing distance. Short stature districts tend to have short, tall stature districts tend to have tall neighbors. Random network analyses suggest direct road effects on height. Whereas in 1884–1891, /i>direct road effects were only visible between 1st order neighbors, direct road effects extended to 2nd and 3rd in 1908–1910, and in 2004–2009, also to 4th order neighbors, and might reflect historic improvements in transportation. The spatial correlations did not significantly change when height was controlled for goiter (1884–1889) and for median per capita income (2006), suggesting direct road effects also in goiter-allowed-for height and income-allowed-for height.
Conclusion: Height in a district depends on height of physically connected neighboring districts. The association decreases with increasing distance in the net. The present data suggest that people can be short because their neighbors are short; or tall because their neighbors are tall (community effect on growth). Psycho-biological effects seem to control growth and development within communities that go far beyond our current understanding of growth regulation.

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14 citations in Web of Science®
15 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:27 June 2014
Deposited On:24 Aug 2014 08:16
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 06:56
Publisher:E. Schweizerbart Science Publishers
ISSN:0003-5548
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1127/0003-5548/2014/0466
Official URL:http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/schweiz/aa/pre-prints/content-anthranz_00_0_0000_0000_hermanussen_0466_prepub

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