Catch-up growth and growth deficits: Nine-year annual panel child growth for native Amazonians in Bolivia

Rebecca Zhang, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Wu Zeng, Victoria Reyes-García, Susan Tanner, William R. Leonard, Jere R. Behrman, Ricardo A. Godoy

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15 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Abstract: Background: Childhood growth stunting is negatively associated with cognitive and health outcomes, and is claimed to be irreversible after age 2. Aim: To estimate growth rates for children aged 2–7 who were stunted (sex-age standardised z-score [HAZ] <−2), marginally-stunted (−2 ≤ HAZ ≤−1) or not-stunted (HAZ >−1) at baseline and tracked annually until age 11; frequency of movement among height categories; and variation in height predicted by early childhood height. Subjects and methods: This study used a 9-year annual panel (2002–2010) from a native Amazonian society of horticulturalists–foragers (Tsimane’; n = 174 girls; 179 boys at baseline). Descriptive statistics and random-effect regressions were used. Results: This study found some evidence of catch-up growth in HAZ, but persistent height deficits. Children stunted at baseline improved 1 HAZ unit by age 11 and had higher annual growth rates than non-stunted children. Marginally-stunted boys had a 0.1 HAZ units higher annual growth rate than non-stunted boys. Despite some catch up, ∼ 80% of marginally-stunted children at baseline remained marginally-stunted by age 11. The height deficit increased from age 2 to 11. Modest year-to-year movement was found between height categories. Conclusions: The prevalence of growth faltering among the Tsimane’ has declined, but hurdles still substantially lock children into height categories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-315
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016


  • Growth faltering
  • public health
  • social epidemiology
  • stunting
  • Tsimane’


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