Child growth as a measure of livelihood security: The case of the Gwembe Tonga

Deborah L. Crooks, Lisa Cliggett, Steven M. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This article outlines an approach to the study of child growth and development in adverse environments that utilizes growth to measure the success of the human/environment interaction. This type of biocultural, human adaptability perspective focuses on within group variation to gain an understanding of the differential ability of households to negotiate opportunities and constraints in the ecological/social/cultural environment. As an example, we report preliminary findings of on-going research in a migrant Gwembe Tonga community in Zambia. Our analysis indicates that average height-for-age and weight-for-height z-scores of school children are below international references, representing compromised community well-being in context of new and shifting environments. We report variation in average household child height-for-age z-scores that is linked to differential livelihood strategies in the community. We conclude that in the context of shared circumstances that focus risk for poor health on this community as a whole, the ability of households to adapt to their circumstances varies as evidenced by differential growth outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-675
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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