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Age patterns in overweight and wasting prevalence of under 5-year-old children from low- and middle-income countries.

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Gatica-Domínguez, Giovanna  ORCID logo
Crochemore-Silva, Inácio  ORCID logo
Neves, Paulo AR 
Dos Santos Vaz, Juliana  ORCID logo


OBJECTIVES: To describe how overweight and wasting prevalence varies with age among children under 5 years in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). METHODS: We used data from nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Overweight and wasting prevalence were defined as the proportions of children presenting mean weight for length/height (WHZ) more than 2 standard deviations above or below 2 standard deviations from the median value of the 2006 WHO standards, respectively. Descriptive analyses include national estimates of child overweight and wasting prevalence, mean, and standard deviations of WHZ stratified by age in years. National results were pooled using the population of children aged under 5 years in each country as weight. Fractional polynomials were used to compare mean WHZ with both overweight and wasting prevalence. RESULTS: Ninety national surveys from LMICs carried out between 2010 and 2019 were included. The overall prevalence of overweight declined with age from 6.3% for infants (aged 0-11 months) to 3.0% in 4 years olds (p = 0.03). In all age groups, lower prevalence was observed in low-income compared to upper-middle-income countries. Wasting was also more frequent among infants, with a slight decrease between the first and second year of life, and little variation thereafter. Lower-middle-income countries showed the highest wasting prevalence in all age groups. On the other hand, mean WHZ was stable over the first 5 years of life, but the median standard deviation for WHZ decreased from 1.39 in infants to 1.09 in 4-year-old children (p < 0.001). For any given value of WHZ, both overweight and wasting prevalence were higher in infants than in older children. CONCLUSION: The higher values of WHZ standard deviations in infants suggest that declining prevalence in overweight and wasting by age may be possibly due to measurement error or rapid crossing of growth channels by infants.



Age Factors, Child, Preschool, Developing Countries, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Logistic Models, Male, Overweight, Prevalence, Surveys and Questionnaires, Wasting Syndrome

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Int J Obes (Lond)

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC