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Feature Paediatrics

Will new Indian growth charts help stem the rise in childhood obesity?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 27 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2013
  1. Manupriya, journalist, Bangalore
  1. manupriya9{at}

New body mass index charts for children in India have the same overweight and obesity cut-off points as for adults, but not everyone agrees that they will help, writes Manupriya

The growth charts committee of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) has recently recommended revised growth charts for height, weight, and body mass index for Indian children aged 5-18. As well as reflecting changes in average height and weight over the past decade, the new charts aim to better identify children with overweight and obesity.

The charts were last revised in 2007, using data that had been collected as long ago as 1989. The new charts are based on the academy’s study of 33 991 children living in 14 cities of India, which was published in 2015.1

Improvements in financial security and availability of adequate nourishing food have affected dietary patterns in India, helping children—especially those from richer socioeconomic groups—to grow. While poorer children remain undernourished, some children from richer families are experiencing obesity. Accurate estimates for childhood obesity in India are not available, but studies have pegged its prevalence between 5% and 14%.2 Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, with a greater burden of lifestyle related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and arthritis.

Doctors have long called for revised growth charts to reflect the changing growth patterns in India and to provide better …

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