Recent growth of children in the two Koreas: a meta-analysis

Econ Hum Biol. 2009 Mar;7(1):109-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Jan 16.


Height differences between the two Koreas were injected into the U.S. presidential debate. The purpose of this article is to report briefly the height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) differences between North and South Korean children by using previous sources and new data. This study employs South Korean data published by the Korean Research Institute for Standards and Science in 1997 and by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards in 2004, comparing them to North Korean data stemming from the 1997 and 2002 nutritional surveys conducted by the United Nations. Furthermore, this article makes use of anthropometric measurements of North Korean refugee children immigrating to South Korea from 2000 to 2007. In 1997, South Korean preschool children were found on average to be 6-7 cm (2-3 in.) taller and about 3 kg (6.6 pounds) heavier than their Northern counterparts; in 2002, the average gap was about 8 cm (3 in.) and 3 kg (6.6 pounds), and the BMI gap was about 1. North Korean boys and girls escaping to South Korea were also found to be on average about 3-4 cm (1-1.6 in.) shorter and 1 kg (2.2 pounds) lighter than their Southern peers.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Korea
  • Male