Measuring children: one reference for all

Lancet. 1981 Aug 8;2(8241):297-9. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(81)90538-9.


Growth standards developed in industrialised countries are appropriate for measuring child growth in developing countries. From data collected among privileged groups of children in developing countries, we have concluded that child growth is mainly influenced by socioeconomic status and not by race or by ethnicity. Height, weight, and age data were collected from 2366 children aged 6-59 months in Egypt, Togo, and Haiti. These children were chosen from private day-care centres, paediatricians' offices, and families of military and Government officials. These data were compared with the NCHS/CDC reference population, which is representative of healthy U.S. children. Distributions of weight-for-height and height-for-age values for the privileged group and the reference population were nearly identical. The 5th, 50th, and 95th centiles height-for-age of the privileged group did not differ greatly from the reference population. The privileged group, however, was heavier than the reference population at heights greater than 100 cm for the 50th and 95th centiles. Overweight appears to be a greater problem in those privileged groups than in the reference population. Since growth in privileged children in these developing countries and in the U.S. children is similar, we feel that use of the NCHS/CDC reference is justified for measuring nutrition status of preschool children in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Egypt
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Reference Standards*
  • Togo
  • United States