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Food Nutr Bull. 2011 Mar;32(1):23-34.

Secular trends in height in different states of India in relation to socioeconomic characteristics and dietary intakes.

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National Institute of Nutrition (Indian Council of Medical Research), Jamai Osmania P.O., Hyderabad 500 007, India.



Information on adult height and associated secular trends in relation to socioeconomic characteristics based on a nationally representative sample is not available from India.


To assess the average adult height and secular trends in height in different states of India in relation to socioeconomic characteristics and dietary intakes according to data from the Third National Family Health Survey (NFHS 3).


Average heights and associated secular trends were analyzed for each state and in relation to socioeconomic variables. Bivariate and multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the association of socioeconomic factors and consumption of animal-source foods with height.


Data from anthropometric measurements were available for 69,245 men and 118,796 women in the age group from 20 to 49 years. The average heights of adult men and women were 165 and 152 cm, respectively, with wide variation among states. Overall, there was a modest secular increase in height (0.50 cm per decade in men and 0.22 cm per decade in women), with a negative secular trend in some of the states. There were striking regional differences in the average heights and the secular trends in height. Similarly, higher socioeconomic status was associated with greater height and a greater secular increase in height. Milk consumption had a positive association with height in men (r = 0.69, p < .001) and women (r = 0.63, p < .001) in various/ different states.


The secular increase in height has been modest in India in spite of impressive economic growth. Consumption patterns of milk in different states may be related to the regional differences in height.

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