Short, thin, or obese? Comparing growth indexes of children from high- and low-poverty areas

J Am Diet Assoc. 1992 Sep;92(9):1092-5.


This study compared the growth indexes of first-grade, white children living in geographic areas of high poverty (n = 281) and low poverty (n = 442) in the state of Washington. Obesity was the most common growth deviance observed in these children. In the low-poverty area, 18% of children had a weight for height greater than the 90th percentile on the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) growth standards, whereas only 12% of children from the high-poverty area were in this category. Neither area had high numbers of children with reduced weight for height (less than the 10th percentile on the NCHS growth standards), but children from the high-poverty area were almost twice as likely to be short for their age; 9% of children from the high-poverty area and 5% of children from the low-poverty area had height-for-age values less than the 10th percentile on the NCHS growth standards. Criteria used to determine students' eligibility for financial support for school lunch did not accurately identify children who were thin or short. The prevalence of obesity in these first-grade children suggests that school-based growth screening as well as weight management and physical fitness programs are needed to identify and avert childhood obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Financing, Government
  • Food Services / economics
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Thinness / epidemiology*
  • Washington