According to the World Health Organization, criteria such as stunting, abnormal weight loss, underweight or overweight are important for assessing nutritional imbalances that result in malnutrition among children. When it comes to child growth, it is internationally recognized as an important health indicator in societies. It is also important as an indicator of nutritional status. The cumulative effects of malnutrition and complications among children are reflected in the percentage of children who were stunted (low height for age) from birth and even before. Therefore, the degree of stunting can be interpreted as an indicator of the presence of poor environmental conditions that have the potential to restrict the child’s growth.
The proportion of underweight children also indicates acute weight loss, stunting, or both. Therefore, it can be difficult to interpret ‘weakness’ as it is a composite indicator. Therefore, underweight, even in its lightest form, indicates an increased risk of child death. And this risk increases in severely underweight children. Inadequate eating and recurrent childhood infections also tend to increase the risk of death among affected children. Stunting leads to poor child performance at school, as well as to a delay in developmental milestones and a decrease in intellectual development in terms of capacity. Childhood loss also predisposes to immune suppression, leading to increased susceptibility to infections.
Childhood obesity needs to be addressed more urgently than adults. Overweight and obesity (especially during adolescence and childhood) increase the risk of developing short- or long-term health problems, particularly cardiovascular disorders and diabetes mellitus. Also, risks include musculoskeletal disorders (eg, Osteoarthritis) and breast, colon, or endometrial malignancies. Evaluation of the nutritional status of a particular population is an important indicator for moderate and / or severe malnutrition.
The Importance of Malnutrition in Women
Chronic malnutrition can negatively affect the growth of bones in girls, such that those affected are likely to have abnormal short stature with a relatively smaller pelvis than women with normal growth. For this reason, affected women may experience complications during childbirth, resulting in disabled births that can be dangerous for the baby, mother, or both. Other birth-related complications of such mothers include the birth of underweight babies (low birth weight babies), delayed intrauterine growth, and short stature later in adult life. Possible general maternal morbidities may also adversely affect the quality of health care for the mother and baby during pregnancy.
The main assessment method of the nutritional status of pregnant women and children is the use of anthropometry (the process by which anthropometric measurements are taken in series). Measurements have been developed and improved over time. These measurements are taken quantitatively and include measurements of muscle circumference, volume, and sometimes muscle strength and tone if other nervous system problems are suspected. Bone length and density and the amount of adipose tissue can also be measured. However, the main anthropometric measurements are weight and height, and from these two, body mass index (BMI) can be calculated. The thickness of the skin folds as well as the head circumference, waist, hips and limb circumference is also important. Such measurements are important in evaluating the nutritional status of children and expectant mothers. Individual measurements for children, respectively, determine whether each child is growing normally, stunted, or thin.
For pregnant women, the measurements will determine timely interventions to correct malnutrition and even the mode of delivery (normal or assisted vaginal delivery or Cesarean section). Therefore, the measurement will also determine the location and cost of the delivery if experts are needed during and after delivery. The type of nutritional monitoring will also be determined by serial quantitative anthropometric measurements.
In more complex healthcare setups such as in developed countries, measurements will determine timely interventions to correct malnutrition and even mode of delivery (normal or assisted vaginal delivery or Caesarean section). Therefore, the measurement will also determine the location and cost of the delivery if experts are needed during and after delivery. Anthropometry in these countries is not only vital for timely and appropriate diagnosis of abnormalities such as microcephaly, macrocephaly, anencephaly, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other lifestyle related diseases, but also provides early diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia.
Moreover, the measurements are useful in the initial assessment and progression of the physical fitness of athletes and even the general population, using newer scientific methods in monitoring the nutritional status of children and expectant mothers compared to traditional ones. However, there are situations where such measurements are not recommended. These include individuals whose limbs have undergone amputation or are from the Plaster of Paris. Anthropometric measurements may be inaccurate due to the difficulty of finding important reference bone markers for those with major abdominal obesity. Inexperienced personnel taking the measurements can also increase the likelihood of erroneous measurements.
The measurement range calculated in this way in relation to the limits given for normal and abnormal values will determine whether an individual is healthy for BMI. Normal weight BMI range is usually between 18.5 and 24.9. Moderate to severe weakness in adults is indicated by BMI <17.0, while BMI <18.5 is an indicator of weakness. Individuals who are thought to be overweight are those with a BMI of 25.0, while those who are considered obese are those with a BMI of 30.0. The health effects of underweight, obesity, and overweight have already been discussed in the previous chapter. Overall, overweight and obesity predispose to a wide variety of noncommunicable diseases. These include various types of malignancies, musculoskeletal and respiratory disorders, gallbladder diseases, ischemic (coronary) heart disease and associated complications such as heart attack and stroke among others. Some of these greatly reduce the lifespan or quality of life of affected individuals. Therefore, the importance and effects of BMI are too important for public health that cannot be overemphasized.
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267938871_Malnutrition_in_Women
Author: Ozlem Guvenc Agaoglu