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Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Stec K.,University of Potsdam | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Meigen C.,Deutsches Zentrum fur Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen | Van Buuren S.,TNO
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2016

Objectives: To reanalyze the between-population variance in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), and to provide a globally applicable technique for generating synthetic growth reference charts. Methods: Using a baseline set of 196 female and 197 male growth studies published since 1831, common factors of height, weight, and BMI are extracted via Principal Components separately for height, weight, and BMI. Combining information from single growth studies and the common factors using in principle a Bayesian rationale allows for provision of completed reference charts. Results: The suggested approach can be used for generating synthetic growth reference charts with LMS values for height, weight, and BMI, from birth to maturity, from any limited set of height and weight measurements of a given population. Conclusion: Generating synthetic growth reference charts by incorporating information from a large set of reference growth studies seems suitable for populations with no autochthonous references at hand yet. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Scheffler C.,University of Potsdam | Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2014

Objectives: Modern human life style has led to significant decrease in everyday physical activity and bipedal locomotion. It has previously been shown that skeletal robustness (relative elbow breadth) is associated with daily step counts. The aim of the study was to investigate whether also other skeletal measures, particularly pelvic breadth may have changed in recent decades. Methods: We re-analyzed elbow breadth, pelvic breadth (bicristal), and thoracic depth and breadth, of up to 28,975 healthy females and 28,288 healthy males aged 3-18 years from cross-sectional anthropological surveys performed between 1980 and 2012 by the Universities of Potsdam and Berlin, Germany. Results: Relative elbow breadth (Frame index) significantly decreased in both sexes since 1980 (<0.001). The trend toward slighter built was even more pronounced in absolute and relative pelvic breadth. In contrast, equivalent changes of parts of the skeletal system that are not involved in bipedal locomotion such as thoracic breadth, thoracic depth, and the thoracic index were absent. Conclusions: The present investigation confirms the decline in relative elbow breadth in recent decades. Analogue, but even more pronounced changes were detected in pelvic breadth that coincides with the modern decline in upright locomotion. The findings underscore the phenotypic plasticity of humans while adapting to new environmental conditions. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:590-597, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Staub K.,University of Zurich | Groth D.,University of Potsdam
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Year: 2016

Recent evidence suggests clustering of human body height. We want to assess the consequences of connectedness in a spatial network on height clustering in an artificial society.Subjects/Methods:We used an agent-based computer modelling technique (Monte Carlo simulation) and compared simulated height in a spatial network with characteristics of the observed geographic height distribution of three historic cohorts of Swiss military conscripts (conscripted in 1884-1891; 1908-1910; and 2004-2009).Results:Conscript height shows several characteristic features: (1) height distributions are overdispersed. (2) Conscripts from districts with direct inter-district road connections tend to be similar in height. (3) Clusters of tall and clusters of short stature districts vary over time. Autocorrelations in height between late 19th and early 21st century districts are low. (4) Mean district height depends on the number of connecting roads and on the number of conscripts per district. Using Monte Carlo simulation, we were able to generate these natural characteristics in an artificial society. Already 5% height information from directly connected districts is sufficient to simulate the characteristics of natural height distribution. Very similar observations in regular rectangular networks indicate that the characteristics of Swiss conscript height distributions do not so much result from the particular Swiss geography but rather appear to be general features of spatial networks.Conclusions:Spatial connectedness can affect height clustering in an artificial society, similar to that seen in natural cohorts of military conscripts, and strengthen the concept of connectedness being involved in the regulation of human height. © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Source

Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Lehmann A.,University of Potsdam | Scheffler C.,University of Potsdam
Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey | Year: 2012

Objective: The age of menarche is usually considered to be affected by nutritional, health-related, social, and economic factors and has significantly decreased since the mid-19th century. The present study was performed to investigate whether the timing of menarche paralleled the general acceleration of physical development, or whether this pattern differed. Study Design: In all, 30 German studies on menarcheal age (n = >200) since 1848 were collected. Frequency distributions were analyzed. Results: During the second half of the 19th and the early 20th century, mean menarcheal age decreased from 18 to 12-13 years in Europe. Yet, the data fail to support the conventional hypothesis that menarcheal age mainly depends on nutritional, health, and economic factors. Conclusions: We suggest that later than usual menarche may not necessarily be regarded as a physical illness, but in view of the apparently physiological delay of menarche in the 19th century, may be viewed as "collective social amenorrhea." Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists and Family Physicians. Learning Objectives: After participating in this CME activity, physicians should be better able to evaluate menarche as an indicator of developmental tempo in both historical and modern settings, compare menarche in healthy mid-19th century girls with menarche in average modern girls, and assess the marked sensitivity of full pubertal development to environmental circumstances. © 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Source

Hermanussen M.,Aschauhof | Alt C.,University of Potsdam | Staub K.,University of Zurich | Assmann C.,University of Bamberg | Groth D.,University of Potsdam
Anthropologischer Anzeiger | Year: 2014

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, 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.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.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. © 2014 E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany. Source

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