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Anthropol Anz. 1990 Sep;48(3):209-27.

Research on secular trends in auxology.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology & Health Education, University of Texas, Austin.


Current status of research on secular trends in growth and maturation is considered from several perspectives. The need to define secular trends as positive, negative or absent is initially discussed. Positive secular trends, i.e., increases in size and earlier maturation, characterize the majority of the auxological literature. However, some populations have experienced negative secular trends or no trends. Positive secular trends and cessation of secular trends in stature and age at menarche are described for developed countries, followed by a brief discussion of secular changes in body proportions and composition. Data from developing countries illustrate all three types of secular trends. Some segments of the population show positive changes in size and age at menarche, while others show no evidence of secular change or negative secular trends. Finally, comparisons of estimated statures in earlier European populations suggest a negative secular trend, i.e., a decline in estimated stature from about the 11th to the 19th centuries, which is followed by a positive secular trend starting about the mid-19th century.

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