The hypothesis is tested that the effects of malnutrition on growth in body size are greater than those on skeletal maturation. Longitudinal data from birth to three years of age are analyzed to quantify the effects of a food supplementation program on body size, as measured by supine length and body weight, and on skeletal maturation, operationalized as the number of hand-wrist ossification centers. The study was carried out in four rural Guatemalan villages. Protein-calorie intake was strongly related to growth in supine length and in body weight. Significant effects of the food supplementation program on skeletal maturity were also observed. However, the effects on maturity were less in comparison to those on body size. Thus, most of the effect on body size of the food supplementation program was independent of changes in maturity. It would seem, therefore, that malnutrition, by affecting body size to a greater extent than maturation, in effect hinders the possibility of catch-up growth and thereby accounts to a large degree for the smaller body size characteristic of adults of malnourished populations.
Martorell, R; Yarbrough, C; and Klein, R E.
"Malnutrition, Body Size, and Skeletal Maturation: Interrelationships and Implications for Catch-Up Growth,"
3, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol51/iss3/11