Anthropometric assessment of nutritional status in children between 6 to 59 months age in District Quetta, Balochistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Epidemiology & Biostatistics (MSc Epidemiology & Biostats)


Community Health Sciences


Proper nutrition is central in promoting the normal growth and development of children. Preschool children constitute the most vulnerable segment of any community. Their nutritional status is a sensitive indicator of community health. Malnutrition inhibits growth in children, increase their risk of morbidity, affect their cognitive development and reduce their subsequent performance in schools. It is estimated that about 174 million children under five years of age in the developing world are malnourished as indicated by low weight for age (underweight), and 230 million are low height for age (stunted). In Pakistan between 30 to 40 percent of children under five are stunted with the highest prevalence of stunting in Balochistan (71%)- The objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence of malnutrition (stunting, wasting and under weight) and to identify the factors associated with chronic malnutrition in children between 6 to 59 months of age in district Quetta. A cross sectional study was conducted in the urban and rural areas of district Quetta in July - September 1999- Information was collected from the mothers of the study subjects on pre-coded questionnaires and anthropometric measurements were taken on children. The anthropometric indices formed for evaluating the nutritional status of children included height for age, weight for age and weigh for height. These indicators are interpreted using classification based on Z-scores (standard deviation units from the reference median) and a cut-off point of -2 was used. The data was evaluated using international reference population of the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as recommended by WHO. Descriptive, univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using SPSS version 8.0. Variables, which were biologically important and statistically significant in univariate analysis, were selected for the multivariate logistic regression analysis. The overall prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight in study population was 6l%o, l3-47o and 55.1% respectively. In multivariate analysis, area of residence (AOR=1.9, 95% Cl: 1.2-2.8), mother's education (AOR=1.5, 95% Cl: 1.1-2.1) and age at start of weaning (AOR=1.4, 95 Vo Cl: 1.0-2.0) were found to be significantly associated with-stunting. For underweight, are area of residence (AOR=1.6, 95 Vo CI: 1.1-2.3), mother's education (AOR=l .6, 95 Vo CI:l.I-2.2) and vaccination status of child, partial vaccination (AOR=I.1,95Vo CI:0.7-1.7) and no vaccination (AOR=I.7,95Vo CI: 1.L-2.6) as compared to complete vaccination, were the factors found to be significantly associated with underweight as dependent variable. The anthropometric assessment of our sample population identified three points of interest. First, stunting and wasting were revealed in a major proportion, second, the prevalence of malnutrition increased with an increase in age, and third the prevalence was higher in rural population as compared to the urban population for all three indicators. The study also found that chronic malnutrition was more prevalent than acute malnutrition. : Malnutrition is a complex and prevalent public health problem in Pakistan, contributing significantly to high rates of morbidity and mortality, especially in infants and children. There is a need to formulate policies for the improvement in the general economic and health structure focusing the immunization coverage, female literacy and health education as well as improving individual living standards.

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