All posts by Dr. Pétur Júlíusson


Bruserud IS, Roelants M, Oehme NHB, Madsen A, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Juliusson PB. References for Ultrasound Staging of Breast Maturation, Tanner Breast Staging, Pubic Hair, and Menarche in Norwegian Girls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2020 May 1;105(5):dgaa107. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa107

Oehme NHB, Roelants M, Saervold Bruserud I, Madsen A, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Juliusson PB. Reference data for testicular volume measured with ultrasound and pubic hair in Norwegian boys are comparable with Northern European populations. Acta Paediatr 2020 Jan 3. doi: 10.1111/apa.15159.

Madsen A, Oehme NB, Roelants M, Bruserud IS, Eide GE, Viste K, Bjerknes R, Almås B, Rosendahl K, Sagen JV, Mellgren G, Juliusson PB Testicular ultrasound to stratify hormone references in a cross-sectional Norwegian study of male puberty. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2019 Oct 26:dgz094. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgz094.

Kristiansen H, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Juliusson PB.Norwegian children and adolescents in blended families are at risk of larger one-year BMI increments. Acta Paediatr. 2020;109:587-594. doi: 10.1111/apa.15019.

Løkling HL, Roelants M, Kommedal KG, Skjåkødegård H, Apalset EM, Benestad B, Morken MH, Hjelmesaeth J, Juliusson PB. Monitoring children and adolescents with severe obesity: body mass index (BMI), BMI z-score or percentage above the International Obesity Task Force overweight cut-off? Acta Paediatr. 2019;108:2261-2266. doi: 10.1111/apa.14898.

Kristiansen H, Eide GE, Brannsether B, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. Associations between different weight-related anthropometric traits and lifestyle factors in Norwegian children and adolescents: A case for measuring skinfolds.Am J Hum Biol 2018;30:e23187.

Oehme NHB, Roelants M, Bruserud IS, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Júlíusson PB. Ultrasound-based measurements of testicular volume in 6- to 16-year-old boys – intra- and interobserver agreement and comparison with Prader orchidometry. Pediatr Radiol. 2018;48:1771-1778. doi: 10.1007/s00247-018-4195-8.

Bruserud IS, Roelants M, Oehme NHB, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Júlíusson PB. Ultrasound assessment of pubertal breast development in girls: intra- and interobserver agreement. Pediatr Radiol. 2018;48:1576-1583. doi: 10.1007/s00247-018-4188-7.

Toftemo I, Jenum AK, Lagerløv P, Júlίusson PB, Falk RS, Sletner L. Contrasting patterns of overweight and thinness among preschool children of different ethnic groups in Norway, and relations with maternal and early life factors. BMC Public Health. 2018 Aug 23;18(1):1056. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5952-1.

Bruserud IS, Roelants M, Oehme NHB, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Júlíusson PB. Ultrasound assessment of pubertal breast development in girls: intra- and interobserver agreement. Pediatr Radiol. 2018 Jul 7. doi: 10.1007/s00247-018-4188-7.

Oehme NHB, Roelants M, Bruserud IS, Eide GE, Bjerknes R, Rosendahl K, Júlíusson PB. Ultrasound-based measurements of testicular volume in 6- to 16-year-old boys – intra- and interobserver agreement and comparison with Prader orchidometry. Pediatr Radiol. 2018 Jul 6. doi: 10.1007/s00247-018-4195-8.

Engen Hanem LG, Stridsklev S, Júlíusson PB, Salvesen Ø, Roelants M, Carlsen SM, Ødegård R, Vanky E. Metformin use in PCOS pregnancies increases the risk of offspring overweight at 4 years of age; follow-up of two RCTs. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Feb 27. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-02419. [Epub ahead of print]

Barstad LH, Júlíusson PB, Johnson LK, Hertel JK, Lekhal S, Hjelmesæth J. Gender-related differences in cardiometabolic risk factors and lifestyle behaviors in treatment-seeking adolescents with severe obesity.BMC Pediatr. 2018;18:61.

Byberg KK, Mikalsen IB, Eide GE, Forman MR, Júlíusson PB, Øymar K. The associations between weight-related anthropometrics during childhood and lung function in late childhood: a retrospective cohort study.BMC Pulm Med. 2018 Jan 19;18(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s12890-017-0567-3.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Benestad B, Lekhal S, Danielsen Y, Hjelmesaeth J, Hertel JK. Severe obesity is a limitation for the use of body mass index standard deviation scores in children and adolescents. Acta Paediatr. 2018 Feb;107(2):307-314. doi: 10.1111/apa.14113. Epub 2017 Ot 27.

Júlíusson PB, Hjelmesæth J, Bjerknes R, Roelants M. New curves for body mass index among children and adolescents. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 2017 Oct 2. doi: 10.4045/tidsskr.17.0570. [Epub ahead of print].

Donkor HM, Grundt JH, Júlíusson PB, Eide GE, Hurum J, Bjerknes R, Markestad T.Social and somatic determinants of underweight, overweight and obesity at 5 years of age: a Norwegian regional cohort study. BMJ Open. 2017 Aug 18;7(8):e014548.

Bratke H, Bruserud IS, Brannsether B, Aßmus J, Bjerknes R, Roelants M, Júlíusson PB. Timing of menarche in Norwegian girls: associations with body mass index, waist circumference and skinfold thickness. BMC Pediatr. 2017 Jun 6;17(1):138.

Byberg KK, Øymar K, Eide GE, Forman MR, Júlíusson PB. Exposure to preeclampsia in utero affects growth from birth to late childhood dependent on child’s sex and severity of exposure: Follow-up of a nested case-control study. PLoS One. 2017 May 9;12(5):e0176627.

Brannsether B, Eide GE, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. BMI and BMI SDS in childhood: annual increments and conditional change. Ann Hum Biol 2017;44:28-33.

Thomassen RA, Kvammen JA, Eskerud MB, Júlíusson PB, Henriksen C, Rugtveit J. Iodine Status and Growth In 0-2-Year-Old Infants With Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27741063.03868.

Brannsether B, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. New reference charts for weight-related body measurements in children. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2016;136:1828-1830.

Blakstad EW, Moltu SJ, Nakstad B, Veierød MB, Strømmen K, Júlíusson PB, Almaas AN, Rønnestad AE, Brække K, Dervon CA, Iversen PO. Enhanced nutrition improves growth and increases blood adiponectin concentrations in very low birth weight infants. Food Nutr Res 2016;Des 1;60:33171

Byberg KK, Eide GE, Forman MR, Júlíusson PB, Øymar K. Body mass index and physical activity in early childhood are associated with atopic sensitization, atopic dermatitis and asthma in later childhood. Clinical and Translational Allergy 2016;6:33.

Christensen HT, Pedersen BT, Poumara E, Petit IO, Juliusson PB. Short stature: Comparison of WHO and National Growth Standards/References for Height. Plos ONE 2016 Jun 9;11(6):e0157277.

Amare EB, Idsøe M, Wiksnes M, Moss T, Roelants M, Shimelis D, Júlíusson PB, Kiserud T, Wester K. Reference Ranges for Head Circumference in Ethiopian Children 0-2 Years of Age. World Neurosurg. 2015;84:1566-1571.

Júlíusson PB, Brannsether B, Kristiansen H, Hoppenbrouwers K, Bjerknes R, Roelants M. Should children with overweight or obesity be excluded from height references? Arch Dis Child 2015;100:1044-8.

Finbråten AK, Martins C, Andersen GL, Skranes J, Brannsether B, Júlíusson PB, Syversen U, Stevenson RD, Vik T. Assessment of body composition in children with cerebral palsy: a cross-sectional study in Norway. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2015;57:858-64.

Hampson SE, Vollrath ME, Júlíusson PB. Personality and overweight in 6-12-year-old children. Pediatr Obes 2015;10:e5-7.

Jensen ET, Daniels JL, Stürmer T, Robinson WR, Williams CJ, Moster D, Juliusson PB, Vejrup K, Magnus P, Longnecker MP. Maternal hormonal contraceptive use and offspring overweight or obesity. Int J Obes 2014;38:1275-81.

Brannsether B, Eide GE, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. Interrelationships between anthropometric variables and overweight in childhood and adolescence. Am J Hum Biol 2014;26:502-10.

Glavin K, Roelants M, Strand BH, Júlíusson PB, Lie KK, Helseth S, Hovengen R. Important periods of weight development in childhood: a population-based longitudinal study. BMC Public Health 2014;14:160.

Brannsether B, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. References and cut-offs for triceps and subscapularis skinfolds in Norwegian children 4-16 years of age. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:928-33.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Nordal E, Furevik L, Eide GE, Moster D, Hauspie R, Bjerknes R. Growth references for 0-19 year-old Norwegian children for length/height, weight, body mass index and head circumference. Ann Hum Biol 2013;40:220-7.

Danielsen YS, Nordhus IH, Juliusson PB, Mæhle M, Pallesen S. Effect of a family-based cognitive behavioural intervention on body mass index, self-esteem and symptoms of depression in children with obesity (aged 7–13): A randomised waiting list controlled trial. Obesity Research and Clinical Practice 2013;7:e116-e128.

Kristiansen H, Júlíusson PB, Eide GE, Roelants M, Bjerknes R. TV viewing and obesity among Norwegian children: the importance of parental education. Acta Paediatr 2013;102:199-205.

Dahlseng MO, Andersen GL, DA Graca Andrada M, Arnaud C, Balu R, De la Cruz J, Folha T, Himmelmann K, Horridge K, Júlíusson PB, Påhlman M, Rackauskaite G, Sigurdardottir S, Uldall P, Vik T; Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe Network. Gastrostomy tube feeding of children with cerebral palsy: variation across six European countries. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2012;54:938-44.

Kokkvoll A, Jeppesen E, Juliusson PB, Flaegstad T, Njølstad I. High prevalence of overweight and obesity among 6-year-old children in Finnmark County, North Norway. Acta Paediatr. 2012;101:924-8.

Milani S, Buckler JM, Kelnar CJ, Benso L, Gilli G, Nicoletti I, Faglia G, Radetti G, Bona G, Schonbeck Y, Van Buuren S, Hermanussen M, Grugni G, Marazzi N, Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Hoppenbrouwers K, Hauspie R, Bjerknes R, Lejarraga H, Sartorio A. The use of local reference growth charts for clinical use or a universal standard: A balanced appraisal. J Endocrinol Invest. 2012 Feb;35(2):224-6.

Vollrath ME, Hampson SE, Júlíusson PB. Children and eating. Personality and gender are associated with obesogenic food consumption and overweight in 6- to 12-year-olds. Appetite 2012;58:1113-1117.

Leversen KT, Sommerfelt K, Elgen IB, Eide GE, Irgens LM, Júlíusson PB, Markestad T. Prediction of outcome at 5 years from assessments at 2 years among extremely preterm children: a Norwegian national cohort study. Acta Paediatr 2012;101:264-70.

Dahlseng MO, Finbråten AK, Júlíusson PB, Skranes J, Andersen G, Vik T. Feeding problems, growth and nutritional status in children with cerebral palsy. Acta Paediatr 2012;101:92-8.

Brannsether B, Roelants M, Bjerknes R, Júlíusson PB. Waist circumference and waist-for-height ratio in Norwegian children 4-18 years – reference values and cut-off levels. Acta Paediatrica 2011. Epub May 31.

Júlíusson PB. Overweight and obesity in Norwegian children: Trends, current prevalence, effect of socio-demographic factors and parental perception. PhD thesis. University of Bergen, Norway, 2010.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Markestad T, Bjerknes R. Parental perception of overweight and underweight in children and adolescents. Acta Paediatr 2011;100:260-5.

Júlíusson PB, Eide GE, Roelants M, Waaler PE, Hauspie R, Bjerknes R. Overweight and obesity in Norwegian children: prevalence and socio-demographic risk factors. Acta Paediatr 2010;99:900-5.

Westerberg AC, Henriksen C, Ellingvåg A, Veierød MB, Júlíusson PB, Nakstad B, Aurvåg AK, Rønnestad A, Grønn M, Iversen PO, Drevon CA. First year growth among very low birth weight infants. Acta Paediatrica 2010;99:556-62.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Hoppenbrouwers K, Hauspie R, Bjerknes R. Growth of Belgian and Norwegian children compared to the WHO growth standards: Prevalence below –2 and above +2 standard deviations and the effect of breastfeeding. Arch Dis Child 2011;96:916-21.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Bjerknes R. Vekstkurver: Hva er forskjellene mellom en referanse og en standard? Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2009;23:53-6.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Eide GE, Moster D, Juul A, Hauspie R, Waaler PE, Bjerknes R. Vekstkurver for norske barn. Tidsskr Nor Legeforen 2009;129:281-6.

Júlíusson PB, Bjerknes R. Sekulær økning i vekt hos barn og unge. Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2008;22:16-24.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Eide GE, Hauspie R, Waaler PE, Bjerknes R. Overweight and obesity in Norwegian children: Secular trends in weight-for-height and skinfolds. Acta Paediatrica 2007;96:1333–7.

Júlíusson PB, Roelants M. Internasjonal definisjon av overvekt og fedme hos barn: Noe for bruk i Norge? Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2007;21:29-32.

Júlíusson PB, Vinsjansen S, Nilsen B, Sælensminde H, Vågset R, Eide GE, Waaler PE, Bjerknes R. Måling av vekst og vekt: En oversikt over anbefalte teknikker. Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2005;19:23-9.


About the Bergen Growth Study



Pétur B. Júlíusson (principal investigator)

Robert Bjerknes

Barneklinikken, Haukeland Universitetssykehus, Bergen; Institutt for klinisk medisin, seksjon for pediatri, Universitetet i Bergen, Bergen

Geir Egil Eide

Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen

Mathieu Roelants

Environment and Health / Youth Health Care (Jeugdgezondheidszorg), Department of Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven – University of Leuven


Bente Brannsether Ellingsen

Stavanger University Hospital

Finalized: November 2015. Title of dissertation: “Overweight and obesity in children: a study of weight-related anthropometric variables in childhood”

Hege Kristiansen

Førde Hospital


Children’s growth and development is dynamic and is at some level reflecting the environment. Secular trends in children’s length growth and final height has been described over the last hundred years and reflects improved job satisfaction, improved nutrition and fewer infections (1). Updated knowledge about growth and growth parameters is important for all health-related work with children and adolescents, both in order to follow up the child, and to follow trends in the child population. On an individual basis this applies to issues such as low or high altitude, abnormal body proportions, pubs minority, as well as over-or under-weight. The population base is including the question of whether there are adverse changes in weight in the child population that should trigger social measures.

The first Norwegian growth curves were constructed by Sundal on the basis of measurements of head circumference performed in Oslo in 1949 (2), and measurement of height and weight collected in Bergen in the period 1950-6 (3). In 1971-4 Waaler followed this up with a study of 3-17 year old children in Bergen, which formed the basis for the current percentile curve for length, weight and head circumference in children older than 4 years (4, 5). The current references for children aged 0-4 years from the SYSBARN- survey conducted in Oslo and Hedmark in 1982-4, and data from the Medical Birth Registry (6). The current Norwegian references are based on measurements performed 23-36 years ago.

There has been a worrying increase of overweight and obesity in recent decades in developed countries, a trend that is also now seen in developing countries. The prevalence of obesity has 2-3 doubled in the last years in the U.S. and Europe and it is now between 12% and 20% in children aged 7-11 years in Northern and Western European countries (7, 8, 9) Obesity is already a serious problem in childhood and child obesity is related to increased morbidity and mortality in adulthood (10, 11, 12).

The increase in the number of children with overweight and obesity demonstrates the importance of good clinical tools to assess overweight and obesity. Today’s references has only the weight-against-height curves, but now body mass index (body mass index, kg/m2 (BMI)) has been internationally recommended for use to assess the degree of overweight and obesity. BMI curves for children and the youth population have been missing in Norway, but are now made for the first time under the direction of the Bergen growth study.


  1. Provide information on length / height and body proportions. The latter involves measurements of sitting height, arm-spen, head circumference, forearm length and leg length.
  2. Provide information on overweight and obesity in Norwegian children and adolescents, to compare measurements of body mass index, skin folds and stomach size.
  3. Provide information on growth rate.
  4. Identify factors that can affect growth and weight development in Norwegian children.
  5. Designing clinically relevant percentile / SD curves for a range of growth parameters



  1. Cross-sectional survey to assess growth and weight parameters. This was conducted from November 2003 to December 2006. The following measurements were made:
    • Length / height and weight among children 0-19 years old
    • head circumference I0-15 years old children
    • Sitting height and leg size in 4-19 year old children
    • Arms Penn, skin folds, underarm and leg-length in children 4-15 years old.
  2. Longitudinal study to determine growth rate. About half the children aged 6-18 were measured one year later, then only measurement of height and weight. Data collection was conducted in the period 2004-2006.
  3. Identification of factors that can affect growth and weight development. Parts of this study involved performing a survey and forwarding the data to existing databases. The survey was conducted in 2006 and 2007. The response rate was 67%. The survey contains 38 questions to all parents who had children aged less than 15 years at the time of measurement.
  4. Design of clinically relevant growth curves.

Child Population

Cross-sectional survey was conducted from November 2003 to December 2006 when a total of 8312 children aged 0-19 years were included and measured. The children were recruited from the Bergen based on stratified random selection of health clinics (n = 8), day care centers (n = 34) and schools (n = 24, including 19 primary and or secondary schools and 5 high schools). All children were invited to participate, but only children where there was a written consent from parents and / or children to participate, were measured. At health centers, around 98% of available children were measured. Participation rate was 57% in kindergarten, 69% in primary schools (1st-7. age groups), 53% in secondary schools (8th-10. step) and in upper secondary schools (1st-3rd. increments). Part- time in kindergarten, activities in the kindergarten or school measure days and travel and sickness absence were all factors that influenced the attendance in addition to the fact that some did not want to participate.

Measurements (13)

The children were measured by public health nurses employed in the study of health centers, while children in kindergartens and schools were measured by study nurses who work in teams, two and two together. Measurements, performed between 08.30 and 13.00, were recorded directly onto laptop computers.

Surface length was measured up to two years of age with Harpenden Infant Measuring Table. The children were measured naked, but with panties and t-shirts on. The head was held by parents up to the head plate, so that the lower edge of orbit stayed in line with the ear opening. Both legs were extended by the school nurse, and the movable plate led to the soles.

At two years of age height was measured standing using the Holtain Portable Stadiometer. The children were measured naked, but with panties and t-shirts on. The measurements were performed without shoes and socks to make sure foot suspension was appropriate and heals were not lifted from the floor. The children were measured with the feet together and with heal buttocks and shoulders into the meter. If the hair was thick, a light pressure was applied to the head plate. The children were asked to “stand straight” and the measurements were taken during normal respiration. Head position was such that the lower edge of orbit stayed in horizontal line with the ear opening.

Weight was measured at the clinic without a nappy using a digital infant weight (Seca). In kindergartens and schools weight was measured wearing panties, occasionally bra, using a digital weight (Seca).

When measuring the head circumference, the greatest head circumference was measured with a metal measuring tape, (Lufkin).

Quality control

At the start of each measuring day, measuring equipment, height and length measure were checked. Person weights at health centers were checked twice a year and at school or in Kindergarten every time they were moved (to a new school / kindergarten). Twice a year, all the performers would meet at a common training session. 10 children were measured twice by all the performers. Measurement accuracy was assessed as well as the variation between the meters.

Statistical analysis

Calculations of sample size were performed on the basis of the statistical strength.
Percentile curves were prepared using the LMS method (14). The data is also analyzed with the software programs SPSS, STAT, and R.


  1. Increase in weight against height in children and adolescents (15)Amongst children aged 4-16 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity 12.5% and 2.1% in boys and 14.8% and 2.9% in girls (cf. IOTF-cut-offs). Compared with figures from the 1970s years is 8% of boys and 7.2% of girls of 97.5 – percentile of weight-for-height from 19771-4 (forstår ikke denne setningen..). The difference is greatest in the top percent missiles, while the lowest is unchanged. Growth increase limits therefore largely a subset of the Norwegian child population. The study also shows the increase in skin folds. Only ethnic Norwegian children were included in this analysis to make it comparable with the figures from the 1970s
  2. New growth curves for Norwegian children aged 0-19 years (16)On the basis of data from the Bergen growth study new percentile curves have been developed for ages 0-12 months (respectively, head circumference, length and weight against age) 1-5 years (respectively, head circumference, length / height and weight against age), 4-19 years (respectively, height and weight against age) and 2-19 (body mass index (BMI) for age). On the curves, a gray field that defines the area between the median 2.0 to 2.5 standard deviations (s) and the median area between -2.0 to -2.5 s are added. The BMI curve has specified limits for overweight, obesity and underweight. The new curves reflect the growth of Norwegian children of today and can replace the existing growth curves when growth and weight development is to be followed in primary- or specialist health services.
  3. The new curves compared with the existing Norwegian reference (16)In today’s children aged 0-4 years, the length / height and weight are only marginally changed from the existing growth curves. For older children, however there is an increase in the 50 percentile for height up to 3.4 cm in boys and 2.5 cm in girls. For children over 4 years, weight for height is also increased, particularly in the top percent missiles. Secular growth trends reflect the need for new growth curves.
  4. The new growth curves compared with international growth curves of WHO for ages 0-5 years (16)The curves of the current Norwegian children are above WHO curves for birth weight, length / height, weight and head circumference for age group 6 months to 5 years of age, which may reflect differences in the environment or growth potential between the populations.


1. Werner B. Sekulära förändringer i kroppslängd. Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2008;22:6-15.

2. Sundal A. Hodets største omkrets hos barn fra fødselen til syv års alder. Tidsskr Nor Lægefor 1949;69:688-89.

3. Sundal A. The norms for height (length) and weight in healthy Norwegian children from birth to 15 years of age. Bergen: Universitetet i Bergen; 1957.

4. Waaler PE. Anthropometric studies in Norwegian children. Acta Paediatr Scand Suppl 1983;308:1-41.

5. Knudtzon J, Waaler PE, Skjaerven R, Solberg LK, Steen J. [New Norwegian percentage charts for height, weight and head circumference for age groups 0-17 years]. Tidsskr Nor Lægeforen 1988;108:2125-35.

6. Knudtzon J, Waaler PE, Solberg LK, Grieg E, Skjaerven R, Steen J, et al. [Height, weight and head circumference of 0-4 year-old children. Data based on the SYSBARN registration and medical register of births]. Tidsskr Nor lægeforen 1988;108:2136-42.

7. Ebbeling CB, Pawlak DB, Ludwig DS. Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure. Lancet 2002;360:473-82.

8. Chinn S, Rona RJ. Prevalence and trends in overweight and obesity in three cross sectional studies of British Children, 1974-94. BMJ 2001;322:24-6.

9. Fredriks AM, van Buuren S, Wit JM, Verloove-Vanhorick SP. Body index measurements in 1996-7 compared with 1980. Arch Dis Child 2000;82:107-12.

10. Whitaker RC, Pepe MS, Wright JA, Seidel KD, Dietz WH. Early adiposity rebound and the risk of adult obesity. Pediatrics 1998;101:E5.

11. Engeland A, Bjorge T, Sogaard AJ, Tverdal A. Body mass index in adolescence in relation to total mortality: 32-year follow-up of 227,000 Norwegian boys and girls. Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:517-23.

12. Sayer AA, Syddall HE, Dennison EM, Gilbody HJ, Duggleby SL, Cooper C, et al. Birth weight, weight at 1 y of age, and body composition in older men: findings from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study. American J Clin Nutr 2004;80:199-203.

13. Juliusson P, Vinsjansen S, Nilsen B, Sælensminde H, Vågset R, Eide G, et al. Måling av vekst og vekt: En oversikt over anbefalte teknikker. Pediatrisk Endokrinologi 2005;19:23-9.

14. Cole TJ. The LMS method for constructing normalized growth standards. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1990;44:45-60.

15. Juliusson P, Roelants M, Eide G, Hauspie R, Waaler P, Bjerknes R. Overweight and obesity in Norwegian children: Secular trends in weight-for-height and skinfolds. Acta Paediatr 2007;96:1333-7.

16. Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Eide GE, Moster D, Juul A, Hauspie R, Waaler PE, Bjerknes R. Vekstkurver for norske barn. Tidsskr Nor Legefor  2009;129:281-6.

17. Júlíusson PB, Roelants M, Hoppenbrouwers, Hauspie R, Bjerknes R. Growth of Belgian and Norwegian children compared to the WHO growth standards: prevalence below -2 and >2 SD and the effect of breastfeeding. Arch Dis Child 2010 Jun 3. [Epub ahead of print].

New growth curves for Norwegian children aged 0-19 years


Children’s growth and development are dynamic and reflects in part the environment. Secular trends in children’s height and final height has been described over the last hundred years, and reflects changes in the environment with improved nutrition and fewer infections. Over the last 20-30 years there has been a rapid and large change in weight in older children and adults.

The first Norwegian growth curves were drawn in Bergen in the 1950s and the data for the second generation of curves (1971-4) were also collected in the same city.

In the period of November 2003 to December 2006, children at the age of 0-19 years were measured at well-baby clinics, kindergartens and schools in the city of Bergen. Above 8000 children were measured and included in the study with the intent to obtain updated information on growth and weight parameters in children in Norway. Measurements of length/height, sitting height, armspenn, under arm- and leg-length, head circumference, weight, waist circumference and skin folds (triceps and subscapularis), were performed. In 2006-2007, questionnaires to more than 7000 parents were sent out. The purpose of the questionnaire was to identify factors that may affect growth and weight trends. Approximately 67% answered the questionnaire.

Results from the study has made it possible to compare measurements of weight against height and skin folds (triceps and subscapularis) against age, of 4115 healthy children measured during 2003-2006, with similar surveys conducted by Per Erik Waaler in Bergen in 1971-1974. Only ethnic Norwegian children were included in this analysis to make it comparable to the Waaler study. In the material from the Bergen Growth Study, at the age of 4-15 years, 18% of the boys and 20.1% of the girls exceeded the 90th centile, for weight to height in the Waaler study. When it came to skin folds, changes were slightly greater. For the triceps, 30% of boys and 28% of girls exceeded 90th centile of the Waaler study. The same number off subscapularis were respectively 26.5% and 25.9%. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 12.5% and 2.1% in boys and 14.8% and 2.9% in girls (IOTF cut-off’s).

Growth curves for Norwegian children aged 0-19 years are developed on the basis of data from the Bergen Growth Study. These are published in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association and compared with current Norwegian curves and WHO growth standards (Juliusson PB, Roelants M, Eide GE, Moster D, Juul A, Hauspie R, Waaler PE, Bjerknes R. The growth curves for Norwegian children. Tidssr Nor Doctors Unite 2009; 129:281-6). The length and weight in children aged 0-4 years has only slightly changed from the growth curves that are in use. Norwegian school children, however, are higher today than in the 1970s, with an increase in the median (50th percentile) for height up to 3,4 cm for the boys and 2,5 cm for the girls, compared to the Waaler study. The new curves are above the WHO growth standards for birth weight and length, and weight and head circumference at age 6 months-5 years. In the autumn 2010 new charts for weight-for-length/height for 0-5 year-old children were released.


Compared with the previous Norwegian growth curves, the Bergen growth study shows that the Norwegian children have become higher and the heaviest have become heavier than 25-35 years ago. This makes it necessary to develop new growth curves.

The curves that are presented here(1), are basis-curves that are needed in all health work with children. Later, special-curves will be made for the assessment of growth proportions (for example, sitting height, arm spen, forearm length, leg length and stomach scope.)


In 2003-2006, 8299 children aged 0-19 years were measured at randomly selected health centers, kindergartens and schools in the Bergen municipality. The data for growth curves of 936 children in whom one or both parents were from countries outside the Nordic region, and 85 children with chronic illness or prematurity were excluded. Measurements from a total of 7278 children were therefore used in the work of these curves, including data from 3756 boys and 3535 girls. 2736 children were younger than 5 years of age. Data from the birth length, birth weight and head circumference at birth was obtained from the Medical Birth Registry. Data from pubertal development is taken from the latest available study in Scandinavia and is based on surveys of 1925 Danish boys and girls aged 6 to 19.9 years from the Copenhagen area, collected in 1991-1993 (2).


Standardized measurement techniques were used, that you can read more about here.


The percentile curves were developed by using the growth model LMS developed by Cole and Green (3).


The new percentile curves presents the length / height, head circumference and body mass index (BMI) and is divided into three age intervals, 0-1 years, 1-5 years and 4-19 years. In addition to the percentile lines, gray fields are added representing respectively the area between median +2.0 to
+2.5 standard deviation (s) and median -2.0 to -2.5 (s). The axes are linear. On the curves, there is a table to insert the current measurements and space to write the name and date of birth. Furthermore, the curves have some relevant definitions and explanations inserted. Separating the reference material in the three age intervals provides good distance between the individual percentile lines and thus functional workplace on the charts.

The curves of respectively 0-1 and 1-5 year old children have the same template. At the top of the sheet, the head circumference against age is inserted, in the middle, length / height against age and lower weight against age. Curve sheet for children and adolescents aged 4-19 years, shows the top elevation mt age and weight against age at the bottom. BMI curves are designed for ages 2-19 years. Here, a gray area at the top is added representing the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) their values for overweight and obesity (4). These are based on the BMI of at least 25.0 kg/m2 (overweight) (iso-BMI 25) and 30.0 kg/m2 (obesity) (iso-BMI 30) at age 18 years and is extrapolated down the ages. This was done that the same standardized deviation scores were followed up from the representative point by age 18 years and under (4). The BMI curves are also entered in the World Health Organization (WHO) limits for grade 1 and grade 2 under-weight. These are based on BMI 18.5 kg/m2 (grade 1 under -weight) and 17, 0 kg/m2 (grade 2 under-weight) at age 18 years, also extrapolated into the age (5).

On the growth curves for ages 4-19 years, references to pubertal development is added. On the curves for boys, percentiles for “T4 ml” (i.e. testis size 4 ml), which is consistent with puberty start and P2-P4 (Tanner-stages pubs minority hairs (6)) is included. On the curves for the girls, percentiles for B2-B4 (-Tanner stages for breast development (7)), P2-P4, and percentiles of menarche is added.

The growth curves are based on a cross-sectional- study and therefore gives a description of how the length / height, weight or head circumference of the individual child is compared with other children, each time. The growth curves say less about the expected growth development of the individual child.

Due to a long tradition in Norway using percentile-curves, also the new curves have percentile lines. The percentile-curves are believed to be easier to explain and are easier understood by parents and children. Standard deviation is still better suited for research purposes with the calculation of standardized deviation scores. National and international definitions and event terms are used in increasingly critical values where the standard deviations are included, for example, the definition of children born small for gestational age (8), and the risk of children with short stature applies(9). The new carts combine both approaches, using percentile lines with the gray areas that represent the median of 2 to 2.5, and -2 to -2.5 s.


The curves show the development of head circumference from birth up to 5 years of age. There are some differences, like when comparing with the earlier reference the new curve is slightly below. The difference has no clinical significance, and is believed to be caused by differences in measurement techniques and standardization. SYSBARN- registration in the 1980s routinely collected measurements from the health centers, while the measurements were performed in the Bergen Growth study by a limited number of nurses and nurses with special training in standardized measurement techniques.

Head circumference should be measured by all the Health centers the first 12 months of life (10). At the intersection of 1-2 percentile channels without suspect findings, repeated measurement should be made after 4 weeks. By clinical findings or intersection of 3 percentile channels the child should be assessed, but healthy children with head circumference below 3 percentile should only be referred if the head circumference blunt from the 3 percentile (10).


The new curves have the same reference for children 4 years and younger as the once that have been used until now. For older children, there is however an increase in the 50 percentile for height up to 3,4 cm in boys and 2.5 cm in girls, in “line” with Norwegian children in these age group has become higher.

At the transition from the measurement of length while lying (from birth up to 2 years of age) to standing height (after 2 years) the difference is slight, usually less than 1 cm. Compared to how it has been done in some other countries (11.12), and in the former Norwegian growth curves, the new curves are smooth with no “notch” at 2 years of age.

Experience has shown that crossing of lines are normal the first 2 to 3 years of life, a phenomenon that can also normally be seen around puberty. It is customary to define short stature as height <2.5 percentile for the age. Most children who are below the 2.5 percentile are healthy and do not need investigation. Height should be assessed against the genetic potential and the current level is well below mid-parental height adjusted for age, the report indicated. Flattening of length or height should be investigated if the child has crossed two percentile lines between measurements and are under 5 years of age (10). Children who are below the 2.5 percentile, above the 97.5 percentile, or has crossed a percentile-line and are more than18 months, should be followed up with annual length / height measurements until clarification (10).


In children younger than 4 years the new curves are consistent with earlier references. In children aged 4-19 years, however the highest percentile has increased in line with the increase in prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Assessment of overweight and obesity should include calculating and plotting of the body mass index (BMI). In children under the age of 5 years, weight against age should always be considered against weighed against the length / height to age. Children under 2.5 percentile or above the 97.5 percentile should be considered in terms of morbid weight deviations.


BMI curves for children is now made for the first time in Norway and onto these are included internationally recognized limits, respectively, overweight and obesity as proposed by the IOTF (4). This is rugged lines that can not be changed with secular trends. Therefore there is a clear indication in the curves when a child is at risk for developing overweight or obesity. The stated limit value for overweight, obesity and underweight is still primarily a screening tool and not a diagnostic tool for the individual child (13). It is important to keep in mind that BMI has its limitations, and that it should be used as an addition to clinical examination (14,15). BMI tells nothing about factors like fat distribution in the body (central versus peripheral), which in turn is linked to health risks (16). Furthermore, BMI differs poorly between muscle and fat, and BMI may therefore be unchanged when muscle mass increases and fat mass decreases, as during exercise (17). On the BMI curves, there are also added limit values for grade 1 and grad2 underweight (5).

Upon suspicion of weight discrepancy, over or under weight, BMI should be calculated and plotted. If iso-BMI exceeds 25, it should be perceived as a danger signal in terms of obesity development, especially if there is a preponderance of the family. If iso-BMI exceeds 30, there is considerable overweight and measures should be implemented. Warning signs of the under weight is if the child’s BMI is below level 1 (ref guidelines).


An overview of the pubertal development of Danish children were included when the new curves were recorded in the years 1991 to 1993 (2). It shows no change in pubs minority point compared to a Danish study from 1964. Menarche age registered in the Bergen growth study (data not shown here), shows good correlation with the Danish puberty reference. Median (50 – percentile) in both cases is slightly above 13 years (18), suggesting that the secular trend in growth and weight are not accompanied by a corresponding secular trend in puberty. Previous growth curves adopted Tanner percentiles in pubertal development, based on surveys of English children in the 1950s (19). The Danish reference shows no systematic differences from the English, and the largest deviations for the different percentiles are up to six months.

Percentile for testicular volume is presented for the first time within the new curves. The background is that the first clinical signs of puberty in normal puberty in boys are testicular volume of 4 ml.

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