TWENTY six per cent of 4500 students in 21 schools around Fiji have been recorded in the undergrowth category.
This was revealed in a survey conducted by Action for Children and The Aged (ACATA) Trust Fiji.
At a presentation during the Corporate Philanthropy Seminar at the Holiday Inn in Suva on Monday, Rosal Lal of ACATA Trust said 53 per cent were recorded in the normal growth category while 21 per cent were "overgrowth".
"While foods are often readily available for kids, unhealthy food habits are actually inhibiting their development," Mr Lal said.
He said the problem had been proven to impact academia. In addition, research also proved poor diet could also impact a child's attitude and behaviour, both in and outside of school.
"Not reaching the normal height for age indicates major nutritional or dietary problem as one of the main causes: seen as growth retardation, growth failure or failure to thrive.
"Malnutrition, infections, depression and growth and development are interlinked."
Therefore, the lifespan of today's generation was shorter than past generations, he said.