Article

Growth and pubertal development in children and adolescents: Effects of diet and physical activity

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.77). 09/2000; 72(2 Suppl):521S-8S.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

The longitudinal growth of an individual child is a dynamic statement of the general health of that child. Measurements should be performed often and accurately to detect alterations from physiologic growth. Although any single point on the growth chart is not very informative, when several growth points are plotted over time, it should become apparent whether that individual's growth is average, a variant of the norm, or pathologic. Somatic growth and maturation are influenced by several factors that act independently or in concert to modify an individual's genetic growth potential. Linear growth within the first 2 y of life generally decelerates but then remains relatively constant throughout childhood until the onset of the pubertal growth spurt. Because of the wide variation among individuals in the timing of the pubertal growth spurt, there is a wide range of physiologic variations in normal growth. Nutritional status and heavy exercise training are only 2 of the major influences on the linear growth of children. In the United States, nutritional deficits result from self-induced restriction of energy intake. That single factor, added to the marked energy expenditure of training and competition for some sports, and in concert with the self-selection of certain body types, makes it difficult to identify the individual factors responsible for the slow linear growth of some adolescent athletes, for example, those who partake in gymnastics, dance, or wrestling.

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