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Height of south Asian children in the Netherlands aged 0–20 years : secular trends and comparisons with current Asian Indian, Dutch and WHO references

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Author: Wilde, J.A. de · Dommelen, P. van · Buuren, S. van · Middelkoop, B.J.C.
Source:Annals of Human Biology, 1, 42, 38-44
Identifier: 505872
Keywords: Health · Adolescent · Child · Growth and development · Reference values · Child health · Height · Measurement method · Population structure · World Health Organization · Netherlands · South Asia · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Behavioural Changes · LS - Life Style · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Background: People from Asian populations are generally shorter than other ethnic groups. It is unknown if current universal height references are suitable for affluent South Asian children in the Netherlands. Aims: To develop height-for-age charts for contemporary South Asian children aged 0–20 years living in the Netherlands, to evaluate secular trends, and to compare the charts with current Asian Indian, Dutch and WHO references. Subjects and methods: A population-based study measured 3315 South Asian children aged 0–20 years between 2007–2010. Among this cohort, 6876 measurements were taken. Another 7388 measurements were taken of a historical cohort of 1078 children born between 1974– 1976 (aged 0–18 years). Results: An upward trend in height was observed for South Asian children living in the Netherlands between 1992–2010. The height-for-age charts of the South Asian historical cohort were similar to current Asian Indian charts. South Asian children in the Netherlands were shorter than their Dutch contemporaries at every age; and these differences increased further during adolescence. Compared to the WHO height-for-age references, there were considerable discrepancies in height, with curves intersecting twice. Conclusion: The discrepancies between the South Asian and Dutch and WHO height-for-age references indicate differences in growth patterns between the source populations.