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Nutritional status of Indian adolescents (15-19 years) from National Family Health Surveys 3 and 4: Revised estimates using WHO 2007 Growth reference
Authors: Madhavi Bhargava, Anurag Bhargava, Sudeep D Ghate, and R Shyama Prasad Rao
Source: PLOS ONE , 15(6): e0234570; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234570
Topic(s): Nutrition
Country: Asia
Published: JUN 2020
Abstract: BACKGROUND:The National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) in India apply adult cutoffs of nutritional status for the estimation of undernutrition/overweight in the 15-19 age group. The prevalence of thinness in boys and girls thus estimated is 58.1% and 46.8% in NFHS-3, and 45% and 42% in NFHS-4 respectively. But the WHO recommends using age and sex-specific reference for adolescents. We reanalyzed the nutritional status of the adolescents using the WHO 2007 Growth Reference to obtain revised estimates of thinness, overweight and stunting across states, rural-urban residence, and wealth quintiles. METHODS AND FINDINGS:Demographic information, anthropometric data, and wealth index were accessed from the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) database. We re-analyzed the anthropometric data using WHO AnthroPlus software which uses the WHO 2007 Growth reference. The revised estimates of thinness assessed by BMI-for-age z-scores in boys and girls was 22.3% (95%CI: 21.6, 23.0) and 9.9% (95%CI: 9.5, 10.3) in NFHS-3 and 16.5% (95%CI: 16.0,17.0) and 9% (95%CI: 8.9, 9.2) in NFHS-4 respectively. Stunting was found to be 32.2% (95% CI: 31.6, 32.9) in boys and 34.4% (95% CI: 34.2, 34.7) in girls in NFHS-4. This was higher than that in NFHS-3; 25.2% (95% CI: 24.4, 26) in boys and 31.2 (95% CI: 30.6, 31.8) in girls. There was a clear socioeconomic gradient as there were higher thinness and stunting in rural areas. There was wide variation among the states with pockets of a double burden of malnutrition. CONCLUSION:Using the adult cutoffs significantly overestimates thinness in adolescents in the age group of 15-19 years old in India. Stunting, which is an indicator of long term nutrition is also widely prevalent in them. Future editions of DHS and NFHS should consider adolescents as a separate age group for nutritional assessment for a better understanding of nutritional transition in the population.