The height and weight of school children can be an accurate indicator of overall health and a recent study has uncovered huge variation around the world, find out more about this study’s findings and the latest nutritional research here in this Nutrition News article.

Poor nutrition linked to height discrepancies in children

A recent study conducted by Imperial College London, as reported by Science Daily, has found that as much as a 20cm height difference between school children could be the result of poor nutrition.

The study looked at data from around the world, which covered 65 million children between the ages of five and 19 years old. From this data, the study’s authors concluded that the height and weight of children around the world varied enormously, which is a strong indicator for health and wellbeing and warned that poor nutrition could easily result in stunted growth and rising childhood obesity.

It is thought that school years, from the ages of five to 19 years old, are the most crucial for child development, with senior author of the study, Professor Majid Ezzati, quoted saying, “children in some countries grow healthily to five years, 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.” He added, “This issue is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools are closed throughout the world, and many poor families are unable to provide adequate nutrition for their children”.

The study’s authors have called for policies to support better quality nutrition for school-age children so that this generation does not face the knock-on effects in health and wellbeing into adulthood.

The link between gut health and vitamin D absorption

Further to our coverage of vitamin D in last week’s Nutrition News article, which illustrated the role vitamin D plays in calcium absorption, a recent study has looked at the elements that may affect vitamin D absorption. As vitamin D is an essential vitamin for immune system support and other crucial functions, identifying processes that may both help and hinder the vitamin’s absorption are just as important as consuming enough of the vitamin initially.

The study by researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego in La Jolla, as reported by Medical News Today, found that gut health could actually play a huge role in converting inactive vitamin D into its active form. The researchers in the study assessed the stool and blood samples from 567 US men and found a correlation between the levels of active vitamin D and the diversity and the number of “friendly” bacteria in the gut.

It is worth noting that this study illustrated correlation, not causation, between gut bacteria and active vitamin D levels and the study only evaluated findings from one gender and one country with an older age of participants, with a mean age of 84. So further research would be needed to establish such findings across age groups, genders and ethnicity. However, the findings are promising and could allude to the reasons that vitamin D supplementation is more effective for some individuals and not others.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation, despite its negative associations, is a normal part of healing. The inflammatory response consists of the body’s increased production of white blood cells, immune cells and cytokines. It is the body’s way of protecting itself against infection, illness and injury; short term (acute) inflammation is usually recognisable as redness, swelling, heat and pain. However, long term, or chronic, inflammation can be far more serious and can often manifest itself without any noticeable symptoms, leading to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and liver disease, according to a recent study reported by CNN.

Rather than being the response of impact or injury, chronic inflammation can be caused by certain lifestyle factors, such as diet. As this article by Healthline highlights, a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can promote chronic inflammation, which can be difficult to control.

To reduce inflammation, eating a diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and fatty fish, could have a beneficial effect.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.