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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


CAMARA, Antonio D. On the association between stature sexual dimorphism and the nutritional status of men and women in the long run. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2018, vol.35, n.spe5, pp.123-128.  Epub July 06, 2020. ISSN 1699-5198.


height variations across cohorts are a proxy of the evolution of living conditions and, specifically, of the nutritional status of a given population. However, the interpretation of the changes in stature sexual dimorphism are controversial.


to test the association between nutritional status and the changes in height differentials between men and women (sexual dimorphism) in the long run (19th and 20th centuries).


three data sources containing measured adult heights are used, namely:

- Data from previous works.

- Data from health examination surveys in OECD countries.

- Data from the NCD RisC Factor Collaboration project.

Two indicators are analyzed: absolute sexual dimorphism (men's height minus women's height) and the ratio of sexual dimorphism (men's height divided by women's height).


a secular trend of sexual dimorphism is evidenced over the second half of the 20th century coinciding with the substantial improvement of environmental factors that determine the net nutritional status. Among cohorts born at the end of the 20th century in non-marginal environments, the average sexual dimorphism was found to be 13.69 cm -absolute- and 1.084 -ratio-. In comparison with these modern figures of sexual dimorphism, those found among cohorts born during the 19th century are abnormally low, especially during periods of worsening of living conditions.


if properly addressed, sexual dimorphism has the ability to report on the degree of environmental stress and its impact on the nutritional status and its differentials across specific groups of the population both cross-sectionally and over time.

Keywords : Nutritional status; Sexual dimorphism; Adult height; Gender inequality.

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