Height is often used as a proxy for health, because children who get good nutrition and health care tend to grow taller than their forebears.
Now new research shows that the average height of women in 14 African countries is shrinking. And that spells bad news for the future health of those nations.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at the heights of women ages 25 to 49 in 54 countries who had been measured between 1994 and 2008, and compared that to the heights of women in 1945.
The rebels in Libya are short of many things these days — weapons, money, even Cabinet ministers.
In the largely improvised scramble to set up an alternative to leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime, the rebels are leaning heavily on a small number of people. One of them is Ali Tarhouni, a University of Washington economics professor who abruptly left his family and students to join an uncertain Libyan revolution.
Tarhouni is not an easy man to sit down with these days; it would be an exaggeration to call him a one-man Cabinet, but sometimes it seems that way.
Way back when we first got into the reporting business, an editor (or perhaps several), said that you'd better be absolutely, positively sure if you ever use phrases like "best ever" or "last ever" or "only one in the world."
You're almost surely going to be proved wrong, the crusty old newshounds would say.