Biological Well-Being and Inequality in Canary Islands: Lanzarote (Cohorts 1886–1982)

  • Referencia: Candela-Martínez, B.: “Biological Well-Being and Inequality in Canary Islands: Lanzarote (Cohorts 1886–1982)”. 2021, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18: 12843. DOI:


Developments in anthropometric history in the Iberian Peninsula have been remarkable in recent decades. In contrast, we barely know about the behavior of insular population groups and infants’ and adults’ growth during the nutritional transition in the Canary Islands. This paper analyzes the height, weight and body mass index of military recruits (conscripts) in a rural municipality from the eastern Canaries during the economic modernization process throughout the 20th century. The case study (municipality of San Bartolomé (SB) in Lanzarote, the island closest to the African continent) uses anthropometric data of military recruits from 1907–2001 (cohorts from 1886 to 1982). The final sample is composed of 1921 recruits’ records that were measured and weighed at the ages of 19–21 years old when adolescent growth had finished. The long-term anthropometric study is carried out using two approaches: a malnutrition and growth retardation approach and an inequality perspective. In the first one, we use the methodology recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) that is based on z-scores. In the second one, we implement several inequality dimensions such as the coefficient of variation (CV), percentiles and an analysis for height and BMI evolution by five socioeconomic categories. The data suggest that improvements in biological well-being were due to advances in nutrition since the 1960s. They show that infant nutrition is sensitively associated with economic growth and demographic and epidemiological changes.

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