Children are one of the most vulnerable groups to sub-optimal nutritional intake in most societies. We have investigated some of the potential determinants of malnutrition in children of 2-5 years of age.
Methods and Materials:
A cross sectional study was conducted to determine the relationship between nutritional status (weight for age, height for age and weight for height) and dietary and socioeconomic factors in 671 children (24-59 months of age) from selected health centers in Mashhad city, Iran. Children were assessed for weight and height and the care givers were interviewed and a questionnaire was completed by the interviewers. The data were analyzed using SPSS13 software and the Z-scores were calculated using the WHO anthropometric software package.
The study showed that 24.4% of children were mildly underweight, 4.3% were underweight, 13% were mildly stunted, 23.6% of children were mildly wasted and 3.1% were stunted. Educational attainment, whether the children had been breast feed, average daily consumption of milk, feeding practices and type of first food were found to be the main factors determining nutritional status in our study.
A higher daily consumption of milk, lower age at which first solid food was started; lower age for consumption of meat and good feeding practices may resolve malnutrition in this population. These findings support the need for a family-based prevention program that focus on guiding parents to foster appropriate feeding practices as well as to promote healthy food intake in the children. Future research should determine the cost-effectiveness of both short- and long-term interventions for child malnutrition.
Keywords:Malnutrition Prevention, Nutritional Intake, Nutritional Status, Preschool Children.