Poor diet creates 20cm height gap in children

Poor diet may be behind an average height gap of 20cm between the world's tallest and shortest children. Researchers from a London college conducted an analysis of the Body Mass Index (BMI) of schoolchildren and teenagers around the world. This involved looking at the height and weight of millions of youngsters. The world's tallest teenagers were 183.8cm and lived in the Netherlands; the shortest, at 160.1cm, lived in East Timor. Teenagers in Europe were the tallest. On average the shortest children lived in Asia, Latin America and East Africa.

The comprehensive study involved analysing data from 65 million children aged five to 19 years old in 193 countries. The children's height and weight varied greatly. The team warned that a lack of quality food and nutrition was a major factor behind stunted growth and childhood obesity. It said improved diets increased the height of children in China. Nineteen-year-old boys there were 8cm taller in 2019 than in 1985. The lead author of the report suggested countries adopt policies that encouraged healthier eating, but to be aware of the dangers of excessive weight gain.