Assessing the applicability of changepoint analysis to analyse short-term growth




changepoint analysis, changepoint detection, performance evaluation, mini growth spurt, short-term growth


Background: Assessing short-term growth in humans is still fraught with difficulties. Especially when looking for small variations and increments, such as mini growth spurts, high precision instruments or frequent measurements are necessary. Daily measurements however require a lot of effort, both for anthropologists and for the subjects. Therefore, new sophisticated approaches are needed that reduce fluctuations and reveal underlying patterns.

Objectives: Changepoints are abrupt variations in the properties of time series data. In the context of growth, such variations could be variation in mean height. By adjusting the variance and using different growth models, we assessed the ability of changepoint analysis to analyse short-term growth and detect mini growth spurts.

Sample and Methods: We performed Bayesian changepoint analysis on simulated growth data using the bcp package in R. Simulated growth patterns included stasis, linear growth, catch-up growth, and mini growth spurts. Specificity and a normalised variant of the Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) were used to assess the algorithm’s performance. Welch’s t-test was used to compare differences of the mean.

Results: First results show that changepoint analysis can detect mini growth spurts. However, the ability to detect mini growth spurts is highly dependent on measurement error. Data preparation, such as ranking and rotating time series data, showed negligible improvements. Missing data was an issue and may affect the prediction quality of the classification metrics.

Conclusion: Changepoint analysis is a promising tool to analyse short-term growth. However, further optimisation and analysis of real growth data is needed to make broader generalisations.


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How to Cite

Gasparatos, N., Scheffler, C., & Hermanussen, M. (2023). Assessing the applicability of changepoint analysis to analyse short-term growth. Human Biology and Public Health, 1.



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