ESPE Abstracts (2016) 86 P-P1-823

Effects of a Stressful Environment (SE) on Height, BMI and Menarche

Alina Germana,b, Gustavo Meschc, Michael Shmoishd & Ze’ev Hochberge


aBnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel; bClalit HMO, Haifa, Israel; cFaculty of Social Sciences, University of, Haifa, Israel; dBioinformatics Knowledge Unit, The Lokey Center, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel; eTechnion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel


Background: Children’s exposure to stress predicts poor health. Poor growth and maturation are recognized indicators of poor health.

Objective and hypotheses: SE correlates with height, BMI and menarche. We correlated seven indicators of SE with countries’ average adult height, BMI and menarche age.

Method: Data for 57 countries of average men and women’s height, BMI and menarche age were collected from WHO report. They were correlated with the countries’ score for SE, built on seven indicators (data World Databank and Transparency International): annual homicide rate, GDP per capita, income inequality (Gini coefficient), corruption perception, urban air pollution and life expectancy at birth. PCA clustered the indicators, and we assessed the effects of SE on height, BMI and menarche age by regression analyses.

Results: The SE indicators clustered in two: QOL, including pollution, life expectancy, GDP and corruption, and the Social factor, including homicide and inequality perception. The QOL cluster correlated positively with male (r=0.63; P<0.0001) and female height (r=0.55; P<0.0001) and with male BMI (r=0.41, P=<0.0001), while the female BMI (quad r=0.38, P=0.024) and menarche age showed a U-shape regression (quad R=0.57, P<0.0001). The Social cluster correlated negatively with male (r=0.46, P<0.0001) and female height (r=0.44, P<0.0001) and female but not male BMI (−0.47, P<0.0001).

Conclusion: 1. Adult height, as a measure of child’s growth, is a strong and BMI a weak indicator of SE. 2. Women’s BMI is low and menarche is strongly delayed in the lowest and less so in the highest QOL score countries. 3. The strongest indicator for poor growth is the QOL cluster: pollution, life expectancy, GDP and corruption, followed by the Social factor: homicide and economic inequality.

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