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Irish teens' height and weight on rise

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Irish boys and girls have gotten heavier since 1985

Irish boys and girls have gotten heavier since 1985

Irish boys and girls have gotten heavier since 1985

Irish teenagers have got taller and heavier in the last 35 years, according to a new global analysis charting child and adolescent physical growth trends in 200 countries.

It reveals wide variations in height and BMI among school-aged children, and faltering growth in many countries - most likely due to lack of adequate and healthy nutrition during school years.

Global height ranking for boys in Ireland have worsened over past 35 years, with 19-year-olds falling from 22nd tallest in 1985, to 25th place in 2019.

However the height ranking for 19-year-old girls in Ireland have improved, up from 48th place in 1985 to 44th in 2019, according to the study in The Lancet.

In 1985, a 19-year-old girl in Ireland was on average 162.4 cms in height - around five foot three inches. And in 2019 the average height was 164.5cms.

The change in height for boys of the same age here during that time also improved from 177.1 cms - around 5 foot eight inches - to 179cms in 2019.

In terms of BMI over the 35 years, girls in Ireland have got heavier up from 21.7/m to 22.6/m. Over the same period the BMI for boys rose from 21.7/m to 22.7/m.

Prof Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London, the senior author of the study, said the global estimates, which are the first of their kind, highlight the urgent need for governments around the world to do more to ensure that healthy growth goes beyond early years and continues through school ages.

The study found an average height gap of 20cm between tallest and shortest nations in 2019, and BMI difference of around 25kg of weight between highest and lowest countries at 19 years of age.

Unhealthy

Over the past 35 years, unhealthy growth trends - with too little height gain and excess weight gains - were seen in New Zealand, the USA, Malaysia, Mexico, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Growth patterns were healthiest among girls living in South Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and some central Asian countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan.


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