October 05, 2006

Height changes in Greece in the 20th century

Hormones (Athens). 2002 Oct-Dec;1(4):245-50.

Secular growth changes in the Hellenic population in the twentieth century.

Papadimitriou A, Chiotis D, Tsiftis G, Hatzisimeon M, Maniati M, Krikos X, Tzonou A, Dacou-Voutetakis C.

Statural growth is dependent on hereditary and environmental factors, i.e disease, nutrition. The improvement of socioeconomic conditions that took place during the 20th century resulted in a secular trend towards greater height and earlier sexual maturation. Greek society has changed dramatically from a mainly agricultural society at the beginning of the 20th century to a mainly urban one in the second half of the century, and during this period Greece became a developed country. The various studies examining the height of children living in Athens during this period show a gradual increase in the height of children, the difference of the mean height between 2001 and 1928 being 11.8 cm and 7.3 cm for 17 year old boys and girls, respectively. The difference in mean height was present at all ages. The difference in final height was mainly due to prepubertal growth. Girls at the age of 10 and boys at 11 years were about 8 cm taller in 2001 than in 1928. A growth study carried out on conscripts in 1990 found no significant difference in the height of males coming from urban or rural areas of the country, whereas such a difference was detected in 1968, rural men being significantly shorter than urban ones in 1968. There are only a few studies on the sexual maturation of Greek children. The available data suggest a secular trend towards earlier puberty in females; however, this can not be substantiated for males. Menarcheal age in Greek girls showed a positive secular change that is in agreement with the observed trend for earlier pubertal maturation in girls. In conclusion, Greek children in the 20th century experienced a positive secular trend in stature which also includes final height. A secular trend for earlier sexual maturation can be shown only for girls.


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