areas had higher body weight than boys. No rural-urban differences
were observed in the chest circumference. Mid- are circumference,
bi-acromial diameter and bi-cristal diameter were significantly
higher for both boys and girls in urban area than rural area.
Rural and urban differences were also observed in the earlier
ICMR study5. Other studies have shown that children in urban
areas are taller and heavier and mature earlier than children
from rural areas. This could be a reflection of differences
in income, education and family size and urban-rural differences
tend to be smaller in economically better-off countries10 .
The average height of girls from the rural areas in this
study was similar to that of boys around the age of 13.5 to
14.5 years and less than boys at all other ages. In the urban
slums girls were taller than boys between the ages of 11 to
14 years. This difference could be because the growth spurt
occurred earlier in the girls. The adolescent girls from rural
as well as urban slum areas in this study had higher body
weight than boys. This difference in weight started from 11
and 12 years of age in urban and rural girls respectively.
Since this study was only for a period of five years it, was
not possible to study the differences between the sexes in
the final height and weight achieved. According to Tanner,
until girls enter their adolescent growth spurt there is little
difference in stature between the sexes. At this point, the
girls tend to become taller than boys. The difference in stature,
arises from the earlier adolescent growth in girls11.
The physical growth characteristics during adolescence was
analyzed in relation to the nutritional status using the Gomez
classification at the time of registration into the earlier
study. The physical growth during adolescence was studied
in three groups viz., Normal, Grade I malnutrition, Grade
II & III malnutrition at the age of 5 to 7 years. It was observed
at all the centres, that both boys and girls who had normal
weight for age at the age of 5 to 7 years continued to have
higher weight and height than children with grade I and grade
II & III malnutrition and children with grade I malnutrition
had higher values than those with grade II & III malnutrition
throughout the study period. Similar observations were made
with regard to height of boys and girls.
The study shows that both urban and rural boys and girls
had lower heights and weights than affluent Indian children.
Wide variations in physical growth between centres were observed.
Even in the two urban slum areas studied there were significant
differences. Further, children malnourished in early life
continued to remain shorter and leaner than those who were
'normal'. This suggests a large environmental influence which
persists during adolescence. Repeated exposures to, infection
results in the failure of catch-up growth. Such variations
between the means of groups