Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 Home Module Intro Table of Contents Glossary
Overview of the CDC Growth Charts

The CDC Growth Chart Reference Population
SectionSection 1Section 2Section 3Section 4Section 5Section 6Section 7

5. The CDC Growth Chart Reference Population


The racial and ethnic distribution in the reference population is representative of the U.S. population at the time each of the NHES and NHANES surveys were conducted.

CDC promotes one set of growth charts for all racial and ethnic groups. Racial- and ethnic-specific charts are not recommended because studies support the premise that differences in growth among various racial and ethnic groups are the result of environmental rather than genetic influences (Garza and de Onis, 2004; Lusky, 2000; Mei, Yip, Trowbridge, 1998; Kuczmarski et al 2002) .

Slide showing Age Adjusted Prevalence of Low Height-for-Age by Ethnic Groups, Children Aged 0 to 5 Years

For example, this graph shows data from the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System on the prevalence of low height-for-age or stunting of recently immigrated refugee children from Southeast Asia in the early 1980s (yellow line) compared to white children (red line). By the 1990s, the prevalence of low height-for-age had declined among Asian children and heights for age were almost identical to that of white children in the United States. This study illustrates the effect of environmental factors on growth. Improved socioeconomic status often is associated with improved growth (Mei, Yip, Trowbridge, 1998).