Where you choose to live has a greater role to play than genetics in your childs early years according to a new study published by the UN.

"Children from India, Norway and Brazil all show similar growth patterns when provided healthy growth conditions in early life", said the World Health Organization (WHO) in a statement summarising its study.

The WHO hopes that the new study will allow parents and doctors to know when the nutrition and healthcare needs of children are not being met.

Under-nutrition, overweight and obesity, and other growth-related conditions can then be detected and addressed at an early stage.

The children in the study, which has been running since 1997, were selected based on an optimal environment for proper growth: recommended infant and young child feeding practices, good healthcare, mothers who did not smoke, and other factors associated with good health outcomes.

The first of this set of new growth charts to be released includes growth indicators such as weight-for-age, length/height-for-age, and weight-for-length/height.

For the first time, there now exists a Body Mass Index (BMI) standard for children up to age 5.