Journal of Biosocial Science (online early)
SPATIAL CORRELATES OF US HEIGHTS AND BODY MASS INDEXES, 2002
JOHN KOMLOS and BENJAMIN E. LAUDERDALE
Aiming to further explore possible underlying causes of the recent remarkable stagnation and relative decline in American heights, this paper describes the result of analysis of the commercial US Sizing Survey (2002). Heights are correlated positively with income and education among both white males and females while Body Mass Index (BMI) is correlated negatively among females, as in other samples. In contrast to much of the literature, this paper considers geographic correlates of height such as local poverty rate, median income and population density at the zip code level of resolution. After adjusting for confounding factors that influence height such as income and education, population density is found to be strongly and negatively correlated with height among white men, but less so among white women. The effect on BMIs less convincing. Other ethnic groups are not analysed in detail because of the small number of observations available. Local economic conditions as measured by median income, unemployment and poverty rate do not have a strong correlation with height or BMI after adjusting for individual income and education.