Rural kids in wealthy countries now grow taller than children in cities, study finds

Some health benefits of urban living for children may be diminishing globally, particularly in affluent countries like the US, UK, and France, according to a study by the Jameel Institute at Imperial College London, led by scientist Majid Ezzati. The research, published in Nature, analysed trends in child and adolescent height and body mass index (BMI) across 200 countries from 1990 to 2020. Previous studies showed that urban areas provided better education, nutrition, and healthcare, resulting in taller children compared to rural areas in wealthy nations. However, the urban advantage has shrunk in the 21st century due to improvements in height for children in rural areas. Dr Ezzati emphasised that addressing growing inequalities, especially for the poor, through initiatives like supplementary incomes and free school meal programmes, is crucial regardless of whether children live in cities or rural areas.