A new global study reveals unhealthy growth trends in several countries, including the United States. Overall, these studies show wide variations in height and BMI among school-age children in 200 countries from 1985-2019.
Researchers from the Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors Collaboration collected data from 2,181 population-based studies to assess height and BMI trends among individuals aged 5-19 years. Overall, the data includes 65 million participants worldwide, thus covering 98.7% of the world’s population for 2019.
Using the Bayesian hierarchical model, they estimated the mean height and mean BMI by country, year, sex, age.
So, in 2019, the countries with the highest population aged 19 were the Netherlands, Montenegro, Estonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina for boys – and the Netherlands, Montenegro, Denmark and Iceland for girls. The countries with the shortest populations were Timor-Leste, Laos, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea for boys – and Guatemala, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Timor-Leste for girls.
The estimated mean difference between these countries is ≥20 cm.
The countries with the highest BMI are the Pacific island nations, Kuwait, Bahrain, Bahamas, Chile, USA, and New Zealand for boys and girls – South Africa for girls. The countries with the lowest average BMI were India, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia, and Chad for boys and girls – as well as Japan and Romania for girls
The estimated mean difference between these groups is about 9-10 kg / m2 (or about 25 kg).
They also reported that children aged 5 years tended to have a healthier BMI or weight compared to subsequent years as they got older.
“In some countries, children as young as 5 years old start with a height or BMI that is healthier than the global median and, in some cases, as healthy as the best performing countries, but they become less healthy than their comparators as they increase. their age by not growing. are tall (for example, boys in Austria and Barbados, and girls in Belgium and Puerto Rico) or are overweight for their height (for example, girls and boys in Kuwait, Bahrain, Fiji, Jamaica , and Mexico; and girls in South Africa and New Zealand), ”they wrote.
In contrast, they noted that children in other countries overtook their peers in terms of height or weight gain with age.
The least healthy changes, defined as gaining too little or too much weight compared to other countries, were most pronounced in many countries in sub-Sabaharan Africa, New Zealand, and the United States for both boys and girls.
The authors comment on the implications of their findings and what could potentially be revealed about child nutrition.
“The finding that children in some countries grow up healthy up to 5 years of age but do not continue throughout the school years suggests an imbalance between investing in improved nutrition and growth before age 5 and doing so in school-age children and adolescents,” they write. .
They conclude by suggesting that these findings should motivate further investment in policies and interventions aimed at supporting health growth in individuals from birth to adolescence. These measures can include improved nutritional quality, a healthier quality of life, and the provision of high-quality preventive and curative care.
Learning, “Trajectories of height and body mass indexes of school-age children and adolescents from 1985 to 2019 in 200 countries and territories: a combined analysis of 2,181 population-based studies with 65 million participants, “Published online at Lancet.