To determine the relationship between socioeconomic development (SD) of local administrative units (LAU) and the height and body mass index (BMI) of second- and third-grade children in Croatia.
We analyzed average height-for-age and BMI-for-age z-scores of 99 LAUs, based on the measurement of 5662 children participating in the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative Croatia. SD was defined according to the governmental Development index. Pearson’s correlations between average height and BMI z-scores and SD were calculated. We used ANOVA to test differences in average height and BMI z-scores among LAUs from different SD quartiles and multiple linear regression to investigate the association between average height-for-age z-scores and SD.
Height-for-age was significantly correlated with SD. We found a difference in average height-for-age between the least and more developed LAUs. A multiple linear regression model showed significant association between Development index and the average height-for-age z-score (F = 13.085, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.119).
This finding is important for creators of policies worldwide as socioeconomic inequalities in children’s height may exist in other countries that, like Croatia, have recently gone through the transition process.