Adult Height, Nutrition and Population Health: A Review

Perkins Jessica, S V Subramanian, George Davey Smith, Emre Ozaltin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)
309 Downloads (Pure)


In this review, we summarize the potential causes and consequences of adult height, a measure of cumulative net nutrition, in modern populations. We discuss the mechanisms linking adult height and health with a focus on the role of potential confounders. Evidence across studies indicates that short adult height (reflecting growth retardation) in low- and middle-income countries is driven by environmental conditions, especially net nutrition during early years, and potentially reflects the association between these conditions and several adverse health outcomes. These conditions are manifested in the substantial differences in adult height that exist between and within countries and overtime.This review suggests that adult height is a useful marker of variation in cumulative net nutrition, biological deprivation, and standard of living between and within populations and should be routinely measured and monitored. Linkages between adult height and health, within and across generations, suggests that adult height may be a potential screening tool for select diseases and that programs focused on offspring outcomes may consider maternal height as a risk factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalNutrition Reviews
Issue number3
Early online date29 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • genetics
  • height
  • intergenerational
  • life course
  • mortality
  • morbidity
  • nutrition
  • population health
  • socioeconomic status
  • stature


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