Interpopulation variation in height among children 7 to 18 years of age

Food Nutr Bull. 2006 Dec;27(4 Suppl Growth Standard):S212-23. doi: 10.1177/15648265060274S505.


The objective of this review is to examine the degree of variation that exists in the achieved height of preadolescent and adolescent children across populations experiencing favorable conditions that support linear growth. Fifty-three population groups were identified that reported mean heights for economically privileged populations from all major continents. Graphic representation of the heights for these populations indicates that the mean height of preadolescent children differs by 3 to 5 cm, whereas population means begin to diverge from the National Center for Health Statistics/World Health Organization (NCHS/WHO) reference at puberty, with most non-European populations falling to approximately 5 cm below the reference and northern European populations exceeding the reference by a similar amount. We conclude that the evidence for limited interpopulation variation in the height of preadolescents supports consideration of a single growth reference for children up to puberty, but the uncertainty of the causes of the divergence in achieved height during puberty requires further research in order to establish an appropriate adolescent growth reference.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values