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Socioeconomic variation in height: analysis of National Child Measurement Programme data for England

04 Sep 2015


Short stature is associated with increased risk of ill health and mortality and can negatively impact on an individual's economic opportunity and psychological well-being. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between height and area-level deprivation by ethnic group in children in England.


Cross-sectional analysis of data gathered from the National Child Measurement Programme 2008/2009 to 2012/2013.


Children (n=1 213 230) aged 4–5 and 10–11 years attending state-maintained primary schools in England. Mean height SD score (SDS) (based on the British 1990 growth reference) was calculated for children by Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index as a measure of area-level deprivation. Analyses were performed by sex and age group for white British, Asian and black ethnicities.


For white British children mean height decreased 0.2 SDS between the least and the most deprived quintile. For Asian children the relationship was weaker and varied between 0.08 and 0.18 SDS. For white British boys the magnitude of association was similar across age groups; for Asian boys the magnitude was higher in the age group of 10–11 years and in white British girls aged 10–11 years the association decreased. Height SDS was similar across all levels of deprivation for black children.


Social inequalities were shown in the height of children from white British and Asian ethnic groups. Further evaluation of height in black children is warranted. Action is needed to reduce inequalities in height by addressing the modifiable negative environmental factors that prevent healthy growth and development of children.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Archives of Disease in Childhood