Child undernutrition in affluent societies: what are we talking about?

Wright, C.M. and Garcia, A.L. (2012) Child undernutrition in affluent societies: what are we talking about? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71(4), pp. 545-555. (doi: 10.1017/S0029665112000687)

73677.pdf - Published Version



In this paper we set out to explore the prevalence of child undernutrition found in community studies in affluent societies, but a preliminary literature review revealed that, in the absence of a gold standard method of diagnosis, the prevalence largely depends on the measure, threshold and the growth reference used, as well as age. We thus go on to explore describe the common clinical ‘syndromes’ of child undernutrition: wasting, stunting and failure to thrive (weight faltering) and how we have used data from two population-based cohort studies, this paper to explore how much these different ‘syndromes’ overlap and the extent to which they reflect true undernutrition. This analysis revealed that when more than one definition is applied to the same children, a majority are below the lower threshold for only one measure. However, those with both weight faltering and low BMI in infancy, go on in later childhood to show growth and body composition patterns suggestive of previous undernutrition. In older children there is even less overlap and most children with either wasting or low fat seem to be simply growing at one extreme of the normal range. We conclude that in affluent societies the diagnosis of undernutrition is only robust when it relies on a combination of both, that is decline in weight or BMI centile and wasting.

Item Type:Articles (Other)
Additional Information:Presented as a paper at the annual meeting of BAPEN with the Nutrition Society, 17 - 20 June, 2012, Harrogate, UK.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wright, Professor Charlotte and Garcia, Dr Ada
Authors: Wright, C.M., and Garcia, A.L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Published Online:07 September 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 71(4):545-555
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record