South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Risk factors of poor anthropometric status in children under five years of age living in rural districts of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, South Africa

MS Lesiapeto, CM Smuts, SM Hanekom, J Du Plessis, M Faber


Objectives: Factors associated with children’s anthropometric status were determined.
Design: Secondary analysis was done using data from a cross-sectional survey including children under five years of age (n = 2 485) and their mothers in rural districts of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, South Africa.
Methods: Data generated by questionnaire and anthropometric indices were used to construct a logistic regression model, taking into account hierarchical relationships of risk factors to determine the odds of a child being stunted, underweight or overweight. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
Results: Factors associated with stunting were child of male gender (odds ratio (OR) = 1.233), the mother’s perception that child was not growing well (OR = 1.346), household receiving no food handouts (OR = 0.719) and mother not making important household decisions (OR = 0.760). Underweight was associated with child of male gender (OR = 1.432), low maternal education (OR = 1.720), mother’s perception that child was not growing well (OR = 2.526), any current breastfeeding (children < 24 months: OR = 2.022), and prior gastrointestinal symptoms (OR = 1.527). Factors associated with child overweight were the household not having a regular source of income (OR = 1.473), low maternal education (OR = 0.595) and mother’s perception that child is not growing well (OR = 0.361).
Conclusion: Boys were more likely to be stunted and/or underweight.  children of mothers with less than five years schooling were more likely to be underweight. A regular source of household income was associated with child overweight/obesity.

Keywords: child malnutrition; risk factors; stunting; underweight; overweight; rural; South Africa
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