Durham, England, Apr 27 (IBNS) A Durham University study of people living in rural Gambia shows that the modern-day "demographic transition" towards living longer and having fewer children may also lead women to be taller and slimmer.
The findings in Gambia, published in the journal Current Biology, may have relevance around the globe.
Dr Ian Rickard, Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, worked with Alexandre Courtiol of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany to show that changes in mortality and fertility rates in Gambia, likely related to improvements in medical care since a clinic opened there in 1974, have changed the way that natural selection acts on body size.
For the study, data was collected over a 55-year period (1956-2010) by the UK Medical Research Council on thousands of women from two rural villages in the West Kiang district of Gambia.
Over the time period, those communities experienced significant demographic shifts-from high mortality and fertility rates to rapidly declining ones. The researchers also had thorough data on the height and weight of the women.