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Salud Publica Mex. 2000 Nov-Dec;42(6):504-10.

[Stature of Chilean parents and children of different ethnicity and social vulnerability].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Centro de Nutrición Humana, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.



To analyze and compare the heights of first-year school children and their parents, according to ethnic background and socioeconomic status.


This is a cross-sectional study of indigenous and non-indigenous school children and their parents, belonging to three levels of social vulnerability: very high (poverty), medium, and very low. An indigenous school child was defined as any child having all four parental surnames of Mapuche origin; non-indigenous were those having Hispanic parental surname. Height was compared using Z scores, using WHO nutritional change reference values. Statistical analysis consisted in comparing differences of mean heights between parents and their children. Differences were assessed using Scheffe's method.


Improvement in socioeconomic conditions was associated with increasing mean parental height (p < 0.001), except for indigenous mothers, who showed no height increase. Fathers from highly impoverished counties were 4 cm shorter than those living in very low vulnerability areas; height differences reached 2 cm among mothers (p < 0.001). Indigenous school children showed a positive height gradient with improving socioeconomic conditions (p < 0.001). This was not observed among non-indigenous children. When comparing parental height with children's height, children had a better height/age ratio than their parents (p < 0.01). This was specially evident among indigenous school children, who had on average 1.4 Z scores more than their parents.


The upward height gradient related to improved social conditions, and the better height/age ratio seen in children in comparison to their parents, regardless their ethnic background and level of social vulnerability, is encouraging and suggests that interventions directed to the poorest groups, including the indigenous population, must be carried out.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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