Nutritional Status of Children below Five Years in Malaysia: Anthropometric Analyses from the Third National Health and Morbidity Survey III (NHMS, 2006)

Khor, Geok Lin and Mohammad Nor, Noor Safiza and Rasat, Rahmah and Ab Rahman, Jamaluddin and Kee, Chee Cheong and Appannah, Geeta and Haniff, Jamaiyah and Shahar, Suzana and Wong, Alan N. F. and Zainuddin, Ahmad Ali and Abd Talib, Ruzita and Yusoff, Ahmad Faudzi (2009) Nutritional Status of Children below Five Years in Malaysia: Anthropometric Analyses from the Third National Health and Morbidity Survey III (NHMS, 2006). Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, 15 (2). ISSN 1394-035X

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Children constitute a vulnerable group and their nutritional status is a sensitive indicator of community health and nutrition. For the first time in its series, the Third National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS III) 2006 included assessment of nutritional status of a nationally representative sample of children aged 0 to below 18 years. Body weight and stature (length or height) measurements were taken according to a standard procedure (WHO, 1998). Data for a total of 22,032 eligible children was analysed using the NutStat (CDC 2000) software. Weight for age was determined for 21,249 children while height for age was obtained for 21,078 children. In addition, weight for height was computed for 12,526 children aged 0 – 13 years. The national prevalence of normal weight for age (WAZ >-2SD to <+2SD) was 81.4% (80.8-82.0)*, height for age (HAZ >-2SD to <+2SD) was 80.5% (79.7–81.2) and weight for height (WHZ >-2SD to <+2SD) was 81.6% (80.8-82.3). The prevalence of underweight (WAZ <-2SD) was 13.2% (12.6-13.9), being higher in boys at 14.5% (13.7-15.3) than in girls at 12.0 (11.3-12.7). The prevalence of stunting (HAZ <-2SD) was found in 15.8% (15.1-16.6) of the children, being higher among boys {16.6% (15.7-17.5)} than girls {15.0% (14.2-15.9)}. Meanwhile, the prevalence of wasting (WHZ <-2SD) was recorded in 10.4% (9.8-11.1), being comparable among boys {10.6% (9.8-11.5)} and girls {10.2% (9.4-11.1)}. Meanwhile, 5.4% (5.0-5.7) of the children were overweight (WAZ >+2SD), the level being 6.0% (5.6-6.5) for boys and 4.7% (4.3-5.1) for girls. Prevalence of underweight and stunting in rural areas was higher at 16.0% (15.1-17.1) and 19.4% (18.2-20.6) respectively, compared to urban areas at 11.4% (10.7-12.2) and 13.5% (12.7-14.5). However, overweight prevalence was lower in rural children {4.0% (3.5-4.5)} than their urban counterparts {6.3% (5.8-6.8)}. In conclusion, the majority of Malaysian children were found to have satisfactory nutritional status. Nonetheless, underweight and stunting prevail especially in rural areas. There should be appropriate public health promotion and socioeconomic improvement interventions to further reduce childhood under nutrition in line with the National Nutrition Policy.

Item Type:Article
Faculty or Institute:Faculty of Medicine and Health Science
Publisher:Nutrition Society of Malaysia
ID Code:6559
Deposited By: Anas Yahaya
Deposited On:19 May 2010 08:26
Last Modified:03 Aug 2010 02:20

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