A new study by Harvard researchers shows that the average height of poor women in some developing countries has significantly declined in the past few decades. 

The Harvard study surveyed 365,000 adult women — ranging from 25 to 49 years old — in 54 poor and middle-income countries. The study found that the average heights of women from 14 African countries have declined, and 21 more in Africa and South America have remained stagnant. Women from Senegal and Chad were found to be the tallest, and those from Guatemala and Bangladesh were the shortest.

A person's height can be a reliable indicator of childhood nutrition, disease and poverty. The findings suggest that poor women born in the last 20 years, particularly in Africa, are worse off than their mothers or grandmothers born after World War II.

"It's a sobering picture," said S.V. Subramanian, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. "It tells you the world is not getting to be a better place for women of lower socioeconomic status. For them, it’s getting worse."

How can poverty be worse today than it was 20 years ago? If the world put less of an emphasis on building armies and fighting wars, and more on fighting hunger and poverty in poor countries, something tells us the findings would be drastically different. 

Read more at the New York Times.

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