National Study of Health and Growth: social and biological factors associated with weight-for-height and triceps skinfold of children from ethnic groups in England

Ann Hum Biol. May-Jun 1987;14(3):231-48. doi: 10.1080/03014468700009001.


Baseline results of weight-for-height and triceps skinfold for a sample of Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Pakistani children living in inner-city areas are given and compared with children in an existing surveillance study representative of the English population. The data collected in 1982 for the representative sample and in 1983 for the ethnic groups gave useful information on 13,073 children in the age-range 5-11 years. The Afro-Caribbean children had a similar weight-for-height to the Caucasian children but they were thinner than the Caucasians in terms of triceps skinfold thickness. Indo-Pakistani children were lighter than any other group in the study. Indo-Pakistani boys had a higher triceps skinfold thickness in relation to NSHG standards than the girls. The Caucasian children in inner-city areas were consistently more obese than the Caucasian children in the representative sample. However, in a set of multiple regression analyses the independent social factors explained a minimal percentage of the variation of weight-for-height and triceps skinfold. Ethnic origin and parents' weight and height were most highly associated with child's weight-for-height and triceps skinfold. The results highlight our limited knowledge of factors influencing obesity in childhood and point out the large differences of weight-for-height and triceps skinfold related to ethnic origin in the UK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm / growth & development
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • England
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Skinfold Thickness*
  • Social Class
  • Social Conditions