Nationwide reference data for height, weight and body mass index of Indian schoolchildren

Natl Med J India. 2011 Sep-Oct;24(5):269-77.


BACKGROUND. The assessment of growth is crucial for child care and reference data are central to growth monitoring. We aimed to assess the height, weight and body mass index (BMI) of Indian schoolchildren in order to develop genderappropriate growth charts for children 5-18 years of age. METHODS. Cross-sectional evaluation of anthropometric parameters (height, weight and BMI) was done in Indian schoolchildren (3-18 years) randomly selected from both fee-paying (upper socioeconomic strata) and non-fee paying (lower socioeconomic strata) schools from 4 regions (north, south, east and west) of India. A total of 106 843 children were evaluated, of which 42 214 children (19 303 boys, 22 911 girls) were from the lower socioeconomic strata and 64 629 children (34 411 boys, 30 218 girls) were from the upper socioeconomic strata. Normative charts, using the lambda-mu-sigma (LMS) method to smoothen the curves, were drawn from children belonging to the upper socioeconomic strata, in view of the gross discrepancy between the two socioeconomic strata. RESULTS. Height, weight and BMI percentile (3rd, 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, 95th and 97th) data were calculated and charts generated. The height of boys and girls was consistently higher at all ages when compared with earlier India data, but the final height was 2-4 cm lower than that reported in the WHO multicentre study of 2007. Weight centiles showed a rising trend both in boys and girls compared not only to earlier Indian data published in 1992, but also to that reported by the WHO multicentre study. The median weight at all ages in both boys and girls was approximately 4 kg more than that reported in affluent Indian children two decades earlier. CONCLUSION. This large nationwide study indicates secular trends in height, weight and BMI in Indian children from the upper socioeconomic strata. We suggest that the height and weight percentiles reported by us may be used as reference standards for India.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Reference Values