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Open Access Cross-sectional growth references and implications for the development of an international growth standard for school-aged children and adolescents

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Normative data are needed to create a reference that indicates optimal development of weight in relation to height and age, particularly in the face of the unfolding obesity epidemic. The body-mass index (BMI) has some serious limitations: it is a relatively poor predictor of current and future fatness. Currently, however, there are few available alternatives, with the possible exception of waist circumference or skinfolds. The use of cross-sectional references to construct a BMI-reference curve is problematic when there are period and cohort effects. Ideally, a reference would be based on longitudinal data in populations with little underweight, overweight, and obesity.

In the meantime cross-sectional data in appropriate populations could be used to construct BMI percentiles linking BMI values at age 5 to those at age 18 (or 21) that would correspond with adult BMI values reflecting optimal health (e.g., that would correspond to adult BMI values between 21 and 23 kg/m2).


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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