Magnitude of thinness, underweight and stunting among school age children in Mpwapwa rural district, central Tanzania


  • A K Hussein
  • C Moshiro



Objectives: To assess the nutrition status among school age children in a rural community. Design: A cross sectional anthropometric survey. Setting: Mpwawa rural district, Central Tanzania. Methods: 639 children from ten randomly selected primary schools and 195 out-of-school children living close to the selected schools were included in the survey. Nutrition status was assessed using anthropometric indicators of Body Mass Index-for-age (BMI-for-age), weight-for-age (wt/age) and height-for age (ht/age). Results: A total of 834 children were included in the assessment. Their ages ranged from 7-18 years; 47.2% were males and 52.8% were females. The prevalence of thinness (BMI-for-age <5th percentile), underweight (weight–for-age <-2 Z-scores), and stunting (weight-for height <-2 Z-scores) among the study subjects were 34.7%, 39.3% and 42.7% respectively. Boys were found to be more affected than girls irrespective of indicator used. Findings also show that in general school going children were worse off than out of school children. It was further found that the prevalence of thinness (low BMI-for-age) was higher if the father was dead (p=0.045) but it was not associated with the education level of parents or household size. Conclusion: The magnitude of protein energy malnutrition among the school age children studied was found to be high. More detailed nutrition studies are needed.

Keywords: Nutrition Status, BMI-for Age, School age Children, Tanzania.

Tanzania Medical Journal Vol. 19 (1) 2004: pp.





Original Research