Article Text

WHAT IS NORMAL GROWTH?
  1. B Werner1
  1. 1Division of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract

Objective To present a proposal for normal growth, height and weight.

Background Internationally, growth curves (reference, standard or normal curves) are proposed to, explicitly or implicitly, describe normal growth. Comparisons between different curves reveal differences, sometimes huge. When normal growth is discussed does “normal” depend on what population is studied? The answer is no because of a few different factors. Different growth patterns of two populations are very seldomly explained by genetic differences but the environmental exposure (socio-economic, nutritional, psychological) decides to what extent the biological growth potential is realized. For a full effect of a good exposure more than one generation has to be exposed. Populations exposed to good conditions have higher average heights than populations exposed by bad conditions. Privileged groups within a population (socio-economic, nutritional and psychological) have a better growth pattern. Populations with high average heights are nearer the normal and desirable situation.

Methods From historical conscript data before the ongoing strong secular change for weight started we can get a relation between height and weight that is desirable and then combine that with data from the big national representative surveys performed before the epidemic of obesity started.

Results Comparisons between international reference values are given and from one of the tallest population in the world the Swedish (together with the Dutch, the Norwegian amongst others) a proposal is given for a presentation of normal growth patterns of height and weight.

Conclusion Normal values for height and weight from birth to final height is possible to present.

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