No association between fat tissue and height in 5019 children and adolescents, measured between 1982 and 2011 in Kolkata/India

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Research Article

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Anthropologischer Anzeiger


Body height has traditionally been looked upon as a mirror of the condition of society, short height being an indicator of poor nutritional status, poor education, and low social status and income. This view has recently been questioned. We aimed to quantify the effects of nutrition, education, sibship size, and household income, factors that are conventionally considered to be related to child growth, on body height of children and adolescents raised under urban Indian conditions. Sample and methods: We re-analyzed several anthropometric measurements and questionnaires with questions on sibship size, fathers' and mother's education, and monthly family expenditure, from two cross-sectional growth studies performed in Kolkata, India. The first Kolkata Growth Study (KG1) took place in 1982-1983, with data on 825 Bengali boys aged 7 to 16 years; and the second Kolkata Growth Study (KG2) between 1999 and 2011 with data of 1999 boys aged 7 to 21 years from Bengali Hindu families, and data of 2195 girls obtained between 2005 and 2011. Results: Indian children showed positive insignificant secular trends in height and a significant secular trend in weight and BMI between 1982 and 2011. Yet, multiple regression analysis failed to detect an association between nutritional status (expressed in terms of skinfold thickness), monthly family expenditure and sibship size with body height of these children. The analysis only revealed an influence of parental education on female, but not on male height. Conclusion: We failed to detect influences of nutrition, sibship size, and monthly family expenditure on body height in a large sample of children and adolescents raised in Kolkata, India, between 1982 and 2011. We found a mild positive association between parental education and girls' height. The data question current concepts regarding the impact of nutrition, and household and economic factors on growth, but instead underscore the effect of parental education.

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