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, 22 (2-3), 258-290

Family Structure and Childhood Anthropometry in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1918

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Family Structure and Childhood Anthropometry in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1918

Evan Roberts et al. Hist Fam.

Abstract

Concern with childhood nutrition prompted numerous surveys of children's growth in the United States after 1870. The Children's Bureau's 1918 "Weighing and Measuring Test" measured two million children to produce the first official American growth norms. Individual data for 14,000 children survives from the Saint Paul, Minnesota survey whose stature closely approximated national norms. As well as anthropometry the survey recorded exact ages, street address and full name. These variables allow linkage to the 1920 census to obtain demographic and socioeconomic information. We matched 72% of children to census families creating a sample of nearly 10,000 children. Children in the entire survey (linked set) averaged 0.74 (0.72) standard deviations below modern WHO height-for-age standards, and 0.48 (0.46) standard deviations below modern weight-for-age norms. Sibship size strongly influenced height-for-age, and had weaker influence on weight-for-age. Each additional child six or underreduced height-for-age scores by 0.07 standard deviations (95% CI: -0.03, 0.11). Teenage siblings had little effect on height-forage. Social class effects were substantial. Children of laborers averaged half a standard deviation shorter than children of professionals. Family structure and socio-economic status had compounding impacts on children's stature.

Keywords: Anthropometric history; BMI; Children; Height; United States.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Example of Weighing and Measuring Test survey instrument
Figure 2
Figure 2
Distribution of height-for-age Z scores by link status
Figure 3
Figure 3
Distribution of weight-for-age Z scores by link status
Figure 4
Figure 4
Comparison of Saint Paul and national stature means
Figure 5
Figure 5
Distribution of height-for-age Z scores in Saint Paul
Figure 6
Figure 6
Distribution of weight-for-age Z scores in Saint Paul
Figure 7
Figure 7
Growth faltering in height-for-age scores
Figure 8
Figure 8
Growth faltering in weight-for-age scores
Figure 9
Figure 9
Distribution of height-for-age scores by order in family
Figure 10
Figure 10
Average height-for-age scores by family size
Figure 11
Figure 11
Family size differed significantly across social class
Figure 12
Figure 12
Social class and mean stature for children in Saint Paul
Figure 13
Figure 13
Household heads’ occupation and mean stature for age Z scores in Saint Paul, 1918.

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    Gutmann MP, Merchant EK, Roberts E. Gutmann MP, et al. J Econ Hist. 2018 Mar;78(1):268-299. doi: 10.1017/S0022050718000177. Epub 2018 Apr 3. J Econ Hist. 2018. PMID: 29713093 Free PMC article.

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