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Forensic Anthropology

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Submitted By KauaiCR
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Galloway A. 1988. “Estimating actual height in the older individual.” Journal of Forensic Sciences, 43: p 126-136.
In this article Galloway brings up the point that the widely used formulas used to estimate stature need to be adjusted to account for the effects of age, as is well accepted and known that as humans get into their older years, they begin to lose stature. The current formula, relying on long bones, was created by Totter and Gleser and estimated that after 45 years, individuals lose about 1.6mm a year. Galloway recognizes that this formula is dated, and that people have begun to grow taller in recent years due to a more nutritional diet. She embarks in a study to see if the rates have changed. The study takes place in Arizona with 550 Caucasian individuals, with ages ranging from 50 – 92. The study found that height loss depends on a number of factors, and knowing the age is a key component. The study also found that stature loss over time is the same between females and males, however there is noticeable loss between differences height, in which the taller population loses a higher percentage of their height. They also found that bone mineral content correlates significantly with percentage of height loss, those with lower bone mineral status tend to lose more height. When reporting height, forensic anthropologists should always remember to include maximum height, as well as age adjusted height. Having both the heights can greatly help because recognition of height loss among the older population is uncommon.

I was curious to know how diet affected the loss of height in older individuals, and if diet is reflected in bone mineral content.

Alison Galloway is a forensic anthropology professor at UCSC. She is best known for her work in the Laci Peterson trial.

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