Geographical variation and migration analysis of height, weight and body mass index in a british cohort study

Journal of Biosocial Science 43 (6):733-749 (2011)
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Abstract

SummaryUsing a sample of 2090 father and son pairs, the regional variation in height, weight and body mass index with intra- and inter-generational migration within Britain was examined. Highly significant regional differences in means were found only for fathers. The overall mean height difference between regions ranged from about 2.7 cm to 3.1 cm, with the tallest fathers being found in the East & South-East region and the shortest in Wales. The variation in mean weight between regions was less significant, with the difference between the heaviest region and lightest being about 3.5 kg. For BMI the highest mean was in the North and Wales and the lowest in the South-West. Intra-generational migrants were, on average, significantly taller than non-migrants for both fathers and sons, but BMI was only significant in fathers, with migrant fathers, on average, having a lower BMI. There were no significant differences in weight between geographically mobile groups for either fathers or sons. Differentiating between regional in- and out-migration revealed that in the fathers' generation in-migrants were taller, on average, in six of the nine regions. The tallest in-migrants among fathers came into the North region; the tallest out-migrants were from Yorkshire & Humberside and the shortest were from Scotland. The largest positive gain on fathers' height was in the West Midlands region and Scotland, while negative effects were found in the Yorkshire & Humberside, East Midlands and East & South-East regions. For sons in-migrants were taller in all regions except Wales, with the largest differences between in-migrants and non-migrants being in the South-East and South-West. For out-migrants, the tallest sons came from Wales, while the shortest came from the East Midlands region. The North, East Midlands, East & South-East and West Midlands regions were net gainers, while Wales and Scotland were net losers. For BMI among fathers, in-migrants were of lower BMI than non-migrants. For out-migrant fathers, the North-West and South-West regions were the only two regions showing positive values, with the largest negative values being found in the East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside. The net effect of migration indicated that the largest gains were in the East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside regions and the largest losses were in Scotland and Wales. The inter-generational migration for BMI showed that in-migrating sons into the North-West and Wales had higher BMI than sedentes, while in-migrants into Yorkshire & Humberside were lower in BMI. In all regions out-migrants had lower BMI than non-migrants. The net effect of migration revealed that six of the nine regions were net gainers, while the Yorkshire & Humberside region was a net loser.

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