Genetic and environmental effects on growth of children from a subsistence agricultural community in Southern Mexico Academic Article uri icon


  • Sibling correlations for size attained in height, weight, sitting height, estimated leg length, the triceps skinfold, arm circumference, and estimated midarm muscle circumference were compared in 6- through 13-year-old schoolchildren grouped by household socioeconomic status. The children were residents of a Zapotec-speaking, subsistence agricultural community in the Valley of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Sibling pairs were classified as being from high and low socioeconomic status (SES) households, and sibling correlations were computed within each SES group controlling for environmental effects derived from a factor analysis of information on household demography and land and livestock holdings. Like-sex siblings from lower SES households have significantly different correlations in four instances. Correlations are higher for leg length in lower SES brothers and higher for sitting height and weight in lower SES sisters, while the correlation for sitting height is higher in upper SES brothers. The sibling correlation results are not entirely consistent with observations on growth status by SES, particularly if the power and similarity of a common environment is the only cause of higher sibling correlations. Reduced body size under poorer socioeconomic and presumably nutritional circumstances is apparent, but it is not possible in this analysis to distinguish whether genotypic (developmental) plasticity or genetic adaptation, or both, are involved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Little, B. B., Malina, R. M., Buschang, P. H., Demoss, J. H., & Little, L. R.

citation count

  • 10

publication date

  • September 1986