POOR diet is the reason teenagers in some parts of the world are almost 8in shorter than others, a study finds.
An ‘imbalance between investment in improving nutrition’ could be to blame for the difference, say researchers who analysed 65million children aged between five and 19 in 193 countries for the study in The Lancet.
Study senior author Prof Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London said: ‘Children in some countries grow healthily to five but fall behind in school years.
‘This shows that there is an imbalance between investment in improving nutrition in pre-schoolers, and in school-aged children and adolescents.’
The UK’s global height ranking has fallen in the past 35 years, with 19-year-old boys falling from 28th tallest in 1985 to 39th in 2019 — despite growing an average of 3in to 5ft 10in. Girls grew half an inch to 5ft 4.5in but dropped from 42nd to 49th.
Last year, the tallest 19-year-olds were in north-west and central Europe. South and south-east Asia, Latin America and east African countries had the shortest.
Emerging economies saw the largest improvement. In China, 19-year-old boys were 3.1in taller over the 35 years, which raised its ranking from 150th to 65th.
Teenagers in the Pacific islands, Middle East, the US and New Zealand had the largest body mass index. Those with the lowest lived in south Asian countries, such as India and Bangladesh.
The difference between the two was equivalent to 55lb.