Determinants of nutritional status in children under three years of age in rural Zimbabwe: the case of Shamva and Makoni Districts

  • M.P. Dembedza
  • L.K. Nyanga
  • C.F.B. Nhachi
  • Z Gomora
  • L.R. Manema
  • G Moyo
  • B Mutonhodza
  • C Chidewe


Background: Malnutrition contributes significantly to the child health burden in developing countries. Stunting, wasting and underweight are associated with poor physical growth, increased morbidity, mortality and retarded cognitive development.

Objective: The main objective of this study was to assess determinants of malnutrition among children under three years of age from rural households.

Setting and Design: A cross-sectional study carried out in Shamva and Makoni districts of Zimbabwe

Subjects: A total of 186 mother-child pairs were randomly selected and an interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to capture socio-demographic data from participants. Scales, wooden height-boards and Mid-Upper Arm Circumference tapes were used to take anthropometric measurements using the WHO guidelines. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Emergency Nutrition Assessment for Standardised Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition (ENA for SMART) software packages were used to analyse data. The World Health Organization (2006) reference standards were used to calculate z-scores.

Results: Child wasting, underweight and stunting prevalences were 8.6%, 7% and 18% respectively. Overweight was 11.6% among children. Mother's Body Mass Index (p=0.044), marital status (p=0.035), household income (p=0.021), low birth weight (p=0.029) and duration of exclusive breastfeeding (p=0.014) were found to be significant determinants of malnutrition. The prevalence of stunting and underweight was higher among boys compared to girls (p=0.038 and p=0.040) while the risk increased with age (p=0.041).

Conclusions: Mother's Body Mass Index (BMI), marital status and household income were determinants of malnutrition. The main individual determinants of malnutrition among under-three children were low birth weight and reduced period of exclusive breastfeeding.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0008-9176