Comparative use of anthropometric indices in the detection of malnutrition among nursery school children in Nnewi, Nigeria

  • EF Ugochukwu
  • I Egbuonu
Keywords: anthropometry, nursery school children, malnutrition.

Abstract

Background: Nutritional status in children can reliably be assed using various anthropometric parameters.
Objective: This study was carried out to assess the nutritional status of preschool children by comparing it with internationally recognized
growth standards, using the anthropometric indices of nutritional status.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out upon a random sample of children (N=300) aged 25 to 83 months who attended nursery
schools in Nnewi, southeast Nigeria. Individual measurements of weight, height and mid-upper arm circumference were taken for each child.
Anthropometric indices of weight and height were calculated. These indices were related to the US National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS)
reference population by standard deviation scores (Z-scores).
Results: One hundred and sixty-two (54.0%) of the 300 subjects were boys, and 138 (46.0%) girls. Of all children, 8 (2.7%) suffered from malnutrition (weight for age less than 2 SD of the reference median), 6 (2.0%) were stunted (height for age less than 2 SD of the reference median), and 63 (21.0%) were wasted (weight for height less than 2 SD of the reference median). Using the mid-upper arm circumference 3 (1.0%) were malnourished, while 149 (49.7%) children were undernourished using the body mass index classification.
Conclusion: Weight for height detected more malnourished children than weight for age. The mid upper arm circumference seems to be a less
sensitive anthropometric index, while body mass index is less specific.
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