Annual Gavan Lecture by Dan Hruskha from Arizona State University


Every fall, the department puts on the annual Gavan Lecture, bringing in a renowned researcher and honoring Robert Gavan who helped found the department.

Our speaker this year is Dan Hruskha from Arizona State University, topic of the lecture is; One size does not fit all. How universal standards for healthy growth can hide undernutrition and obesity worldwide.

Researchers frequently compare height and weight against universal models of human growth to assess well-being, deprivation, and disease risk.  However, pre-existing population differences in body shape can make some populations look well-nourished, even though they live in severe states of deprivation, and make others look lean, even though they have high levels of body fat.  In this talk, I describe the worldwide extent of these population differences and illustrate how judging height and weight by universal standards can dramatically underestimate adult obesity in some regions (e.g. South Asia and the Horn of Africa) and underestimate childhood stunting in others (e.g. West Africa and the Caribbean).  I conclude by discussing current efforts to develop and implement population-sensitive standards for assessing healthy development.