Body Mass Index of Indian 19-year old boys and girls among lowest in 200 countries, Lancet study shows

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November 7, 2020 6:04 PM

According to the study, 19 year old Indian boys have an average BMI of 20.1 in contrast to the highest BMI recorded in boys from the Cook Islands at 29.6. The lowest average BMI was recorded in the Ethiopian boys at 19.2.

In a similar measure, the mean BMI for girls in India is 20.1 in contrast to the highest BMI recorded in girls in Tonga at 29.0. (Representative image)

According to a study which was published by the Lancet journal on Friday, Indian 19 year-old boys and girls have one of the lowest Body Mass Index (BMI) as compared to other countries. While the average BMI of the 19 year old boys in India is five rank above from the bottom of the list, that of the 19 year-old girls in India is three ranks above from the bottom, the Indian Express reported. The study perused the data from more than 2181 studies on BMI spanning over 200 countries to arrive on its conclusions. BMI is the ratio of the weight of an individual divided by his/her height and is considered to be the apt standard to measure the physical health of an individual. The BMI is calculated by dividing the weight of an individual in kg by the square of the height of the individual in metres.

According to the parameters issued by the World Health Organisation, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered to be normal. On the other hand, the BMI ranging from 25 and above is considered overweight with the BMI of 30 and above termed as obesity. According to the study, 19 year old Indian boys have an average BMI of 20.1 in contrast to the highest BMI recorded in boys from the Cook Islands at 29.6. The lowest average BMI was recorded in the Ethiopian boys at 19.2. In a similar measure, the mean BMI for girls in India is 20.1 in contrast to the highest BMI recorded in girls in Tonga at 29.0. The lowest average BMI was recorded in girls in Timor-Leste at 19.6.

The gap becomes more pronounced in terms of mean height. While the average height of the Indian 19-year boys and girls is 166.5 cm and 155.2 respectively, the average height of boys and girls in the Netherlands is 183.8 cm and 170 cm respectively.

Prof Majid Ezzati, from the Imperial College in London and who was also a senior author of the study told the Indian Express that over 20 cm difference in the average height of Indian girls and boys and the adults from other high scoring countries represented at least 8 year of growth gap for girls and 6 year of growth gap for boys. To support his statement, he said that the 19 year old girls in India have the same height as that of 12 year old Dutch girls.

Prof Ezzati, however said that there has been a marked improvement in the BMI as well as height in Indian adults between the period of 1985 and 2019 but he added that there is still a huge potential in terms of height. Prof Ezzati further said that the government programmes targeted towards poor children from the school age could play a crucial role in improving the situation.

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