As part of a nutritional surveillance system of primary school children the relation between growth and vegetarianism in the Urdu, Gujarati, and Punjabi groups was explored. The aim of the analysis was to ascertain if vegetarian children from ethnic minorities are at a disadvantage in terms of nutritional status within their group of origin. Data for 80.7% of 473 Urdu children, 86.6% of 551 Gujarati children, and 84.4% of 1265 Punjabi children were available for the analysis. No significant differences in weight-for-height and triceps skinfold were found between vegetarians and non-vegetarians even after adjustment for potential confounding variables. Vegetarian girls tended to be shorter than non-vegetarian girls in all Asian groups, although this difference reached a statistically significant level (p less than 0.01) only in the Urdu group. Although our findings should be interpreted with caution they indicate that health visitors and other health staff should be aware of the possible contribution of vegetarianism to the nutritional status of Asian girls.
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