Secular trends in adult stature among the Makushi of Guyana in the 20th Century


Objective: This study describes secular trends in physical stature, Cormic Index (CI), and body mass index (BMI) of adult Makushi Amerindians born between 1910 and 1980, compares the stature of these Makushi adults to Makushi adults measured in 1921, and provides contextual data to inform the findings. Methods: Pearson's correlation was used to assess the relationship between year of birth and physical stature, BMI, and CI for 231 females and 113 males, 20 to 90 years of age measured in 2000 to 2001. Wilcoxon's test was used to compare physical stature of Makushi adults measured in 2000 to 2001 with that of 40 Makushi adults measured in 1921. Results: Among Makushi measured in 2000 to 2001, females and males born more recently were taller and had a lower CI but did not differ in BMI relative to their elders. Makushi measured in 2000 to 2001 are significantly taller than those Maksuhi measured in 1921. Conclusion: The increased physical stature of and decreased CI in more recently born Makushi may be explained by a more favorable early life environment possibly due to public health measures and dietary changes. As well, trends in stature may be linked to genetic admixture with African-Guyanese migrating into the region during this time.

Publication Title

American Journal of Human Biology