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1 year of age in the United States were greater by 3 to 8 cm (1 to 3 inches) than those of children of the same age in Canada measured two decades earlier (Demirjian, 1980). This difference could be partly explained by approximations necessary to compare the two data sets but more likely by a continuation of the secular trend of increased heights for age noted in the Nutrition Canada Survey when it compared data from that survey with an earlier (1953) national Canadian survey (Pett and Ogilvie, 1956).

Similarly, median weights beyond age 1 year derived from the recent survey in the United States (NHANES III) were also greater than those obtained from the older Canadian survey (Demirjian, 1980). Differences were greatest during adolescence, ranging from 10 to 17 percent higher. The differences probably reflect the secular trend of earlier onset of puberty (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997), rather than differences in populations. Calculations of BMI for young adults (e.g., a median of 22.6 for Canadian women compared with 22.8 for U.S. women) resulted in similar values, thus indicating greater concordance between the two surveys by adulthood.

The reference weights chosen for this report were based on the most recent data set available from either country, with recognition that earlier surveys in Canada indicated shorter stature and lower weights during adolescence than did surveys in the United States.

Reference weights are used primarily when setting the EAR or Tolerable Upper Intake Level for children or when relating the nutrient needs of adults to body weight. For the 4- to 8-year-old age group, a small 4-year-old child can be assumed to require less than the EAR and that a large 8-year-old child will require more than the EAR. However, the RDA or AI should meet the needs of both.


Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) is a generic term for a set of nutrient reference values that includes the Estimated Average Requirement, Recommended Dietary Allowance, Adequate Intake, and Tolerable Upper Intake Level. These reference values are being developed for life stage and gender groups in a joint U.S. and Canadian activity. This report, which is one volume in a series, covers the DRIs for vitamins A and K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc.


AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). 1997. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics 100:1035–1039.

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