Trend in height of Turkish and Moroccan children living in The Netherlands


Objectives: To study trends in height of Turkish and Moroccan immigrant children living in The Netherlands, to investigate the association between height and background characteristics in these children, and to calculate height-for-age-references data for these groups. Design: Nationwide cross-sectional data collection from children aged 0 to 18 years by trained professionals in 1997 and 2009. The study population consisted of 2,822 Turkish 2,779 Moroccan, and 13,705 Dutch origin children in 1997and 2,548 Turkish, 2,594 Moroccan, and 11,255 Dutch origin children in 2009. Main outcome measures: Mean height in cm, and mean height standard deviation scores. Results: In 2009, mean height at the age of 18y was similar for Turkish and Moroccan children: 177 cm for boys and 163 cm for girls, which was 2 to 3 cm taller than in 1997. Still, Turkish and Moroccan adolescents were 5.5 cm (boys) to 7 cm (girls) shorter than their Dutch peers. No significant differences were found in mean height standard deviation scores across the educational level of the parents, geographical region, primary language spoken at home, and immigrant generation. Conclusions: While the secular height increase in Dutch children came to a halt, the trend in Turkish and Moroccan children living in The Netherlands continued. However, large differences in height between Turkish and Moroccan children and Dutch children remain. We found no association with the background characteristics. We recommend the use of the new growth charts for children of Turkish and Moroccan origin who have a height-for-age below -2SD on the growth chart for Dutch children.

Stef van Buuren
Stef van Buuren

My research interests include data science, missing data, child growth and development, and measurement.