Diminishing benefits of urban living for children and adolescents’ growth and development
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Optimal growth and development in childhood and adolescence is crucial for lifelong health and well-being1–6. Here we used data from 2,325 population-based studies, with measurements of height and weight from 71 million participants, to report the height and body-mass index (BMI) of children and adolescents aged 5–19 years on the basis of rural and urban place of residence in 200 countries and territories from 1990 to 2020. In 1990, children and adolescents residing in cities were taller than their rural counterparts in all but a few high-income countries. By 2020, the urban height advantage became smaller in most countries, and in many high-income western countries it reversed into a small urban-based disadvantage. The exception was for boys in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries in Oceania, south Asia and the region of central Asia, Middle East and north Africa. In these countries, successive cohorts of boys from rural places either did not gain height or possibly became shorter, and hence fell further behind their urban peers. The difference between the age-standardized mean BMI of children in urban and rural areas was <1.1 kg m–2 in the vast majority of countries. Within this small range, BMI increased slightly more in cities than in rural areas, except in south Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in central and eastern Europe. Our results show that in much of the world, the growth and developmental advantages of living in cities have diminished in the twenty-first century, whereas in much of sub-Saharan Africa they have amplified.
|Status||Udgivet - 2023|
CURIS 2023 NEXS 091
This study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council (grant number MR/V034057/1), the Wellcome Trust (Pathways to Equitable Healthy Cities grant 209376/Z/17/Z), the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme and the European Commission (STOP project through EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement 774548). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. We thank W. Dietz, L. Jaacks and W. Johnson for recommendations of relevant citations. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this Article and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions, or policies of the institutions with which they are affiliated.
© 2023, The Author(s).
- Det Natur- og Biovidenskabelige Fakultet
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