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H. Luke Shaefer

George C. Alter photo

Height, Frailty, and the Standard of Living: Modeling the Effects of Diet and Disease on Declining Mortality and Increasing Height

Publication Abstract

Alter, George C. 2004. "Height, Frailty, and the Standard of Living: Modeling the Effects of Diet and Disease on Declining Mortality and Increasing Height." Population Studies, 58(3): 265-279.

Explanations of historical trends in both mortality and human height differ over the relative contributions of better nutrition and reduced exposure to disease. This paper explores theoretical models in which interactions between diet and disease determine both mortality and height. One model assumes that adult height is directly related to frailty, the relative risk of dying. The second model links frailty to differences between attained and potential height. Diet plays a small role in the transition to low mortality in the first model. The second model assigns a large role to diet in historical mortality trends, but implies that mortality will be unrelated to height in the future.

DOI:10.1080/0032472042000272339 (Full Text)

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