Urban-rural differences in the growth of South African black children.Ann Hum Biol. 1992 Jan-Feb; 19(1):23-33.AH
Urbanization is a major migratory process characteristic of developing countries. The majority of comparisons of the growth of urban and rural children from developed countries reflect greater heights and weights, and by implication health, of urban children. Urban-rural comparisons of South African black children are few in number and have concentrated on 'average' children, thereby omitting the factor of socioeconomic status. The present study compares two groups of urban children of high (n = 307) and average (n = 867) socioeconomic status and two groups of rural children. The rural children came from farm labourer's families (n = 392) and traditional subsistence farming environments (n = 420). The children ranged in age from 5 to 19 years. In general the well-off urban children were consistently, but not significantly, larger than all other groups and 'average' urban children were consistently and at times significantly smaller and lighter. The growth of the two rural groups fell between these extremes but were also consistently different in that the children of farm labourers were significantly lighter at all ages than children living in a traditional subsistence economy. It is concluded that the average urban environment in South Africa is not conducive to improved growth and health unless it is accompanied by an improved socioeconomic status.