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Nutritional status of under five children in Ethiopia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ahmed Abdulahi
Sakineh Shab-Bidar
Shahabeddin Rezaei
Kurosh Djafarian


Background: Undernutrition is the outcome of insufficient food intake and recurrent infectious diseases. The baseline levels of undernutrition remain so high that Ethiopia still needs to continue substantial investment in nutrition.Therefore, the aim of this study was to obtain estimates of over-time trends in the prevalence of undernutrition in Ethiopia and to determine risk factors for undernutrition among children of under five years of age.

Methods: Cross-sectional studies published in English from 1997 to 2015 focusing the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight in children aged 0-5 years (n = 39,585) in Ethiopia were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched in PubMed and Scopus databases and other articles manually. Two review authors independently selected studies for inclusion, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias in the included studies. The protocol number of the study is PROSPERO 2015: CRD42015027940.

Results: Eighteen studies were included and the overall pooled prevalence estimate of stunting, underweight and wasting was 42.0% (95% CI: 37.0, 46.0), 33.0 % (95% CI: 27.0, 39.0) and 15.0% (95% CI: 12.0, 19.0), respectively. The sensitivity analyses resulted in the prevalence of stunting, 40% (95% CI: 32.0, 48.0; I2=99.19%), prevalence of underweight, 33%(95% CI: 24.0, 42.0; I2=99.34%) and wasting rate equal to 19%(95% CI: 14.0, 24.0; I2=99.19%). Cumulative analysis revealed a stabilization trend of stunting and underweight (1996-2010) followed by an upward trend (2010-2014). Child age, child sex, complementary food, poor dietary diversity, diarrheal diseases, maternal education, maternal height, residential area and socio- economic status were significant risk factors for undernutrition.

Conclusion: The result of the meta-analysis of thes observational studies revealed that the trend of undernutrition in Ethiopia indicates that there is an increment of chronic malnutrition cases in recent years, and the prevalence of undernutrition remains extremely high. Thus, the implementation of policies to reverse child undernutrition should get maximum emphasis.

Keywords: Undernutrition, children, prevalence and Ethiopia

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eISSN: 2413-7170
print ISSN: 1029-1857