Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

A Cross Sectional Research on the Height, Weight and Body Mass Index of Children Aged 5-6 Years in Latvia and Its Secular Changes during the Last Century

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

A Cross Sectional Research on the Height, Weight and Body Mass Index of Children Aged 5-6 Years in Latvia and Its Secular Changes during the Last Century

Article excerpt


Aim: To determine the main anthropometric parameters and their changes during the 20th and early 21st centuries for children aged 5-6 and to analyze the nutritional level of the population based on percentage.

Methods: 536 healthy Latvian 5 and 6 year old children were randomly selected and a cross sectional survey was carried out. To collect anthropometric data, the height and weight of each child was measured and BMI calculated. The Kolmogorov-Smimov Goodness-of-Fit test was used to assess the distribution of data; it was concluded, that the data for both boys and girls in both analyzed age groups fits a normal distribution. Using a t-test statistical tool, the results were compared to our previous study (1998/1999) and to the most significant national anthropometric investigations of the 20th century.

Results: During the last decade, the mean values of height and weight (for both boys and girls) have increased in both age groups. The mean BMI value increase for 6 year old boys and girls was not statistically significant (p>0.05). The BMI mean values for 5 year old boys and girls have decreased (p<0.05). In both age groups the highest percentage of children are of normal weight. In the past 10 years the proportion of 5 year old underweight children has increased, but the proportion of overweight children has decreased percentage-wise. In all analyzed age groups a little tendency towards increase of the percentage of obese children can be observed. From 1929 to 2007/2009, the overall mean values of height and weight have increased, but BMI mean values have decreased.

Conclusion: Positive secular changes were observed in body height and weight during the past decade (p<0.01) and century. The increase in BMI at the beginning of the 21st century in comparison to the end of the 20th century may possibly be facilitated by the increased occurrence of overweight, obesity and related diseases in Latvian children. However, the number of underweight children has increased in the last decade as well.

Keywords: children, BMI, height, weight

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Latvia is located in Northeastern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea; its area is 64,589, population (2010) 2.3 million; ethnic composition: indigenous peoples - 59.4% Latvian, 27.6% Russian, 3.6% Belorussian, 2.5% Ukrainian, 2.3% Polish, 1.3% Lithuanian, other nationalities - 3.3%. According to the European Statistics of Income and Living Conditions (EU- SILC), the population health condition of Latvia is ranked low (1, 2). As children are the most vulnerable and sensitive part of the population and respond more quickly to changes in living conditions, their health status was assessed by evaluating their growth and development. Anthropometric changes in children in Latvia are of high public health relevance, especially due to historical circumstances of the country.

There is a risk of health disorder with the fluctuation of body mass index. During the last 30 years, adiposity in children has increased worldwide (3-5). Child and adolescent adiposity is also associated with an increased risk of emotional problems, disability and premature death in adult age (6-8). In economically developed countries, comparatively less research is done on the prevalence of underweight children and the causes and consequences thereof.

The aim of the study was to determine the changes in height, weight and BMI of children in Latvia aged 5-6 years during the 20th and the early 21st century in order to evaluate the level of nutrition, understand the current situation, and estimate the proportion of children that are under- or overweight.


536 healthy 5 and 6 year old children (253 boys and 283 girls) of all socioeconomic and ethnic groups from all regions of Latvia were randomly selected to carry out a cross sectional survey from 2007 to 2009.

The choice was determined by the correspondence of this cohort with the age of children in the older group of preschool educational institutions, which gave access to the target group and made the process of sampling and taking measurements possible. …

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