Prevalence of malnutrition among children in Embu, São Paulo State, Brazil, 1996-1997

This paper focused on the nutritional profile of children in the municipality of Embu, São Paulo State, Brazil, in 1996-1997, to identify vulnerable population segments that require specific action by health services. The sample consisted of 320 children <FONT FACE=Symbol>£</FONT> 5 years of age distributed into four socioeconomic strata. The indices were expressed as z-scores: weight/age (W/A), height/age (H/A), and weight/height (W/H) to analyze the nutritional status, and the reference for normality was the NCHS curve. In all population strata and age groups, the height/age index was the most frequently affected, while the weight/height index had the fewest deficits. No statistically significant differences were observed in children's nutritional status between the four population strata or between the different age groups. Children with low birth weight showed the highest prevalence of deficits in all indices. In the municipality, the frequency of deficits were: H/A< 2z: 7.1%, W/H< 2z: 0.2%, and W/A< 2z: 2.9%. Height deficit can be used as an early warning, considering that loss observed over the course of years has future consequences.

Nutrition Disorders; Anthropometry; Nutrition Surveys

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