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Bull World Health Organ. 1993;71(6):703-12.

The worldwide magnitude of protein-energy malnutrition: an overview from the WHO Global Database on Child Growth.

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Scientist, Nutrition unit, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


Using the WHO Global Database on Child Growth, which covers 87% of the total population of under-5-year-olds in developing countries, we describe the worldwide distribution of protein-energy malnutrition, based on nationally representative cross-sectional data gathered between 1980 and 1992 in 79 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The findings confirm that more than a third of the world's children are affected. For all the indicators (wasting, stunting, and underweight) the most favourable situation--low or moderate prevalences--occurs in Latin America; in Asia most countries have high or very high prevalences; and in Africa a combination of both these circumstances is found. A total 80% of the children affected live in Asia--mainly in southern Asia--15% in Africa, and 5% in Latin America. Approximately, 43% of children (230 million) in developing countries are stunted. Efforts to accelerate significantly economic development will be unsuccessful until optimal child growth and development are ensured for the majority.

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