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Biomed Environ Sci. 2001 Dec;14(4):283-91.

Definition and measurement of child malnutrition.

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Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Beijing 100050, China.


Child Malnutrition has been defined or described in many ways. To summarize the common points, child malnutrition may be defined as a pathological state resulting from inadequate nutrition, including undernutrition (protein-energy malnutrition) due to insufficient intake of energy and other nutrients; overnutrition (overweight and obesity) due to excessive consumption of energy and other nutrients; deficiency diseases due to insufficient intake of one or more specific nutrients such as vitamins or minerals. In the assessment of child malnutrition, a large number of measures are available. Among these measuring methods, Z-score, growth charts, weight-for-length index (WLI), height standard weight, body mass index, skin fold thickness and clinical grading diagnosis standard for child malnutrition are selected for discussion. The same set of anthropometry data of a group of preschool children was analyzed by using different methods. The results showed that it was very difficult to determine the nutritional state of children using a single index. For a given group of children, Z-score method is recommended to observe their height, weight and weight for height at the same time in order to have a comprehensive understanding.

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