Poor diet - Shorter children


Comparing across ethnic/cultural groups is a slippery path.

Talk to me about trends within cultures and I’ll listen. Tall people with little body fat is the norm in the Netherlands…neither is the norm in the South Pacific, where a higher BMI is still considered the ideal.


I’d like to follow along. Height and weight, and BMI are important for the children I treat.

It is my impression that the US does not have an agreed upon interpretation of BMI for children. I’d love to learn more.

A “poor diet”, by definition, can’t be a “rich” thing, but I am curious about if and how shorter might have come to be a negative thing, or taller a positive.

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It’s about inadequate/healthy nutrition in the diet of the children in their school years due to factors such as living conditions and socioeconomic status. From this study they think weigh gains and height are closely linked to the quality of the children’s diet. Up until the age of 5 most children grow normally and healthy. Some countries invest more in the well-being of children and this is the result.

According to some studies, children in low-income families tend to be fatter. Parents work hard, not enough time to cook, the children eat more fast food than home-cooked food. Stress and safety in the home and their environment are also some of the factors.

Thank you. I clicked the Lancet link, but it did not take me to the original publication. Presumably then, the Netherlands invests the most in the well-being of children abd East Timor and Guatemala the least?

I can see the idea being true in general, but my oldest is short and stout, looks just like my sister in-law, and my youngest tall and lean, like my dad, and youngest got less time and home cooked food. Just anecdotal of course.

I agree with the idea, and it’s why some kids get “free” breakfast and lunch at school here too.

I’m going to look for the original article.

It’s only a small factor. They/the study somehow completely didn’t take genetics into account.

The Dutch diet is high dairy and meat based (only in 3 generations, they used to be same height as other Europeans and did not eat so much dairy and meat). Apparently, Dutch children are “happiest*” in the world according to latest poll. That are also some of the factors.

(* most insolent more like)

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Interesting! Especially the three generation part. Is that across “races”? It reminds me of the “Orchid child” theory. I wonder if Dutch children could be especially sensitive to good diet and environment.

Comparison is indeed a slippery path.

Also, high weight in the Pacific is due to a range of issues-- whilst historically there was some value placed on size, a lot of this is also down to colonialism and food sourcing on the islands. A lot of processed food is part of the diets, and for those wondering about why fruits aren’t higher, many islands/ post-colonial nations are in thrall to structural adjustment programmes that make export crucial. In the latter regard I know less about the Pacific (and even then there are important distinctions to make between Melanesia and Polynesia).

The question of dealing with weight is fraught, even there (and again ‘there’ is so complicated-- are we talking Fiji, Samoa, PNG, Papua, etc.)…

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold