Poor nutrition in school years may have created a 20cm height gap between nations



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A new global analysis led by Imperial College London and published in the journal The Lancet, assessed the height and weight of school-age children and adolescents around the world.

The study, which used data from 65 million children between the ages of 5 and 19 in 193 countries, revealed that the height and weight of school-aged children, which are indicators of their health and quality of their diets vary enormously around the world.

There was a difference of 20 cm between 19-year-olds in the highest and lowest nations: this represented an eight-year growth gap for girls and a six-year growth gap for boys. For example, the study revealed that the average 19-year-old girl in Bangladesh and Guatemala (the nations with the shortest girls in the world) is the same height as an average 11-year-old girl in the Netherlands, the nation with the tallest boys and girls.

The international team behind the study warns that highly variable infant nutrition, particularly a lack of quality food, can lead to stunted growth and an increase in childhood obesity, impacting a child’s health and well-being throughout. the life.

The research, which reported data from 1985 to 2019, revealed that the nations with the tallest 19-year-olds in 2019 were located in northwestern and central Europe and included the Netherlands, Montenegro, Denmark and Iceland.

These nations with the lowest 19 years of age in 2019 were mainly in South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and East Africa, including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, and Bangladesh.

The greatest improvements in the average height of children over the 35-year period were observed in emerging economies such as China, South Korea and parts of Southeast Asia. For example, 19-year-old boys in China in 2019 were 8 cm taller than in 1985, with their global rank rising from the 150th highest in 1985 to 65th in 2019. In contrast, children’s height , particularly males, in many sub-Saharan countries African nations have stagnated or shrunk in recent decades.

The world height ranking for the UK has worsened over the past 35 years, with 19-year-olds going from 28th highest in 1985 (176.3cm) to 39th in 2019 (178.2cm) and 19-year-old girls from 42nd (162.7cm)) to 49th (163.9cm).

The study also evaluated the children’s body mass index (BMI), a measure of the ratio of height to weight, which provides an indication of whether a person has a healthy weight for their height. The analysis found that 19-year-olds with the largest BMI were found in the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, the United States and New Zealand. The BMI of 19-year-olds was lowest in South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh. The difference between the lightest and heaviest BMI in the study was about 9 units of BMI (equivalent to about 25 kg of weight).

The research team explains that the analysis also revealed that, in many countries, children at the age of five had a height and weight in the healthy range defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, after this age, children in some countries have experienced too little height gain and gained too much weight, relative to the potential for healthy growth.

The team says the most important reason for this is the lack of adequate and healthy nutrition and a living environment in the school years, as both height and weight gains are closely linked to the quality of the child’s diet. a child.

Professor Majid Ezzati, senior author of the study from Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “Children in some countries grow up healthily for up to five years, but lag behind in school years. This shows that there is an imbalance between investments. in improving nutrition in schoolchildren and school-age children and adolescents. This issue is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools are closed around the world and many poor families are unable to provide adequate nutrition for their sons “.

Dr Andrea Rodriguez Martinez, lead author of the study at Imperial’s School of Public Health, added: “Our findings should motivate policies that increase the availability and reduce the cost of nutritious foods, as this will help children grow up more. tall without gaining excessive weight. for their height. These initiatives include food stamps for nutritious food for low-income families and healthy, free school meal programs that are particularly threatened during the pandemic. These actions would allow children to grow taller without gaining excessive weight, with lifelong benefits for their health and well-being. “

Further results are also available below:

The 10 highest countries for boys in 2019 (age 19)

Netherlands (183.8 cm), Montenegro (183.3 cm), Estonia (182.8 cm), Bosnia and Herzegovina (182.5 cm), Iceland (182.1 cm), Denmark (181.9 cm) , Czech Republic (181.2 cm), Latvia (181.2 cm), Slovakia (181.0 cm), Slovenia (181.0 cm)

The 10 shortest countries for boys in 2019 (19 years)

Timor-Leste (160.1 cm), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (162.8 cm), Solomon Islands (163.1 cm), Papua New Guinea (163.1 cm), Mozambique (164.3 cm), Guatemala (164.4 cm), Nepal (164.4 cm), Yemen (164.4 cm), Bangladesh (165.1 cm), Madagascar (165.2 cm)

Top 10 countries for girls in 2019 (age 19)

Netherlands (170.4cm), Montenegro (170.0cm), Denmark (169.5cm), Iceland (168.9cm), Latvia (168.8cm), Estonia (168.7cm), Serbia (168.3 cm), Czech Republic (168.0 cm), Lithuania (167.6 cm), American Samoa (167.6 cm)

The 10 smallest countries for girls in 2019 (age 19)

Guatemala (150.9 cm), Bangladesh (152.4 cm), Nepal (152.4 cm), Timor-Leste (152.7 cm), Madagascar (153.1 cm), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (153, 1 cm), Philippines (154.1 cm), Maldives (154.3 cm), Indonesia (154.4 cm), Peru (154.4 cm)

10 countries with the highest BMI in 2019 for boys (age 19)

Cook Islands (29.6), Nauru (29.5), Tuvalu (28.2), Niue (28.1), Tonga (27.3), American Samoa (27.2), Tokelau (27.2) , Palau (27.1), French Polynesia (26.3), Kiribati (26.2)

10 countries with the lowest BMI in 2019 for boys (age 19)

Ethiopia (19.2), Niger (19.8), Democratic Republic of the Congo (19.9), Senegal (20.1), India (20.1), Timor-Leste (20.3), Bangladesh (20 , 4), Central African Republic (20.5), Nepal (20.5), Chad (20.6)

10 countries with the highest BMI in 2019 for girls (age 19)

Tonga (29.0), Cook Islands (28.9), Nauru (28.6), Niue (28.3), Tokelau (27.9), Samoa (27.9), Tuvalu (27.2), American Samoa (26.6), Palau (26.5), French Polynesia (26.2)

10 countries with the lowest BMI in 2019 for girls (age 19)

East Timor (19.6), Romania (19.9), India (20.1), Viet Nam (20.4), Madagascar (20.4), Sri Lanka (20.6), Cambodia (20.6 ), Myanmar (20.6), Bangladesh (20.6), Japan (20.6)

Other data by country 2019 for 19-year-olds:

Country Average height (cm) Height in average BMI ranking (kg / m2) BMI ranking


United Kingdom 178.2 39 23.5 60

United States of America 176.9 47 25.4 16

China 175.7 65 23 88

India 166.5 180 20.1 196

France 178.6 34 22.5 113

Germany 180.3 19 23.3 68

Australia 178.8 29 24.4 27

Canada 178.7 30 23.8 43


United Kingdom 163.9 49 23.8 50

United States of America 163.3 58 25.4 19

China 163.5 54 22.2 119

India 155.2 182 20.1 198

France 164.5 45 21.7 151

Germany 166.2 25 22.6 98

Australia 164.7 40 24.2 36

Canada 164.7 39 23.3 69

Up there: Netherlands, Latvia world leader in height of people

More information:
“ Trajectories of height and body mass index of school-age children and adolescents from 1985 to 2019 in 200 countries: pooled analysis of 2,182 population-based studies with 65 million participants ” is published in The Lancet: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (20) 31859-6 / fulltext

Provided by Imperial College London

Quote: Poor nutrition in school years may have created a 20cm height gap between nations (2020, November 5) recovered November 5, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-poor-nutrition- school-years-cm. html

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