Less tall and robust, cities are less good for young people

Growing up in the cities of rich countries no longer offers the same advantages as in the past, those who grow up in the countryside are actually taller and more robust: this is indicated by a large international study published in the journal Nature and coordinated by Imperial College London, to which the Italy has participated with many universities, such as those of Padua, Turin and Ferrara, and research centers, such as Crea and the National Research Council (Cnr).

The results indicate that, around the world, the differences between living in urban and rural areas are no longer as marked as in the past. “Although in the collective imagination country life is seen as synonymous with a healthy life, the reality is often quite different,” said Alfonso Siani, of the Cnr’s Institute of Food Sciences, to ANSA.

Until recently, the basic indicators of physical well-being, such as data on average height or the body mass indicator (BMI), considered excellent references for assessing the quality of nutrition and the propensity to develop diseases, indicated that populations residing in cities grew better than those living in rural areas, where conditions of poverty or less attention to proper nutrition are more widespread. Now, however, an important change is observed and this is indicated by recent analyzes of the population relating to as many as 194 countries and 71 million girls and boys between the ages of 5 and 19

According to the 1,500 researchers who collected the data, including many Italians, until 1990 the differences between children and adolescents who lived in cities and in the countryside were very clear. “In the 1990s in richer countries, including Italy, the differences between growing up in the city or in the countryside weren’t very clear-cut – added Siani – but they were marked in many poor countries, such as those in most of the Sub-Saharan Pacific Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. But taking a similar picture of the situation 30 years apart, in 2020, it emerges that these differences have decreased”. These data are very complex to analyze and lend themselves to many interpretations, both of a general and local nature: “We can say that in the poorest countries the countryside no longer has the same disadvantages as they once did, or that the cities no longer offer advantages of the past”, added Siani.

Analyzing more specific cases, however, it is observed that these differences are still very marked especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the gap between urban and rural life has even increased: in some countries there is a height difference of as much as 5 centimeters between 11-year-old children who grew up in the city or in the countryside. Understand these dynamics. the researchers note in the study, could help guide efforts to improve health in these important age groups, a fact even more relevant considering the current increase in poverty in many countries of the world and in the cost of food due in part to the pandemic of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine

Source: Ansa

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