Long-Term Health and Development Implications of Stunting

Friday, February 12, 2016: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Marriott Balcony B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Andrew Prentice, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
Stunting (ie a failure to grow to one’s full genetic potential) represents the most robust metric by which we can infer that a person has suffered early life nutritional and environmental insults. Stunting is the biological response to such deficits and in many cases is successfully adaptive insofar as the individual can at least survive and reproduce within a frugal environment. Short stature per se is not necessarily a major detriment to health or development, but it provides the external evidence that other organ systems may have had a similarly impaired development – notably the brain. In contemporary societies tallness is viewed as a positive attribute and is associated with success in employment, earnings, mate selection and so forth. This presentation will examine some of the evidence that stunting affects later life success and will endeavour to decipher whether such associations are causal.