Objectives: The study was conducted to determine trends of undernutrition and overnutrition among children age 0 to 59 months in Kenya and to analyze the determinants of child undernutrition and overnutrition.
Data and methods: The study analysed data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Surveys (KDHS) 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008-09. The study examined the trends in malnutrition over the four surveys and the relationship
between malnutrition and selected household, maternal, and child characteristics.
Results: The levels of stunting and underweight declined significantly (P<0.05) over the study period, by 4.6 percentage points. Nonetheless, stunting remains of high public health significance in Kenya, while underweight is of medium public health significance, as per the World Health Organization (WHO) classification (WHO 1995). Household wealth index, maternal education, maternal Body Mass Index (BMI), and size of the child at birth were significant determinants of child undernutrition.
Conclusion and recommendations:
The effect of wealth index, maternal education, and maternal BMI on child undernutrition changed over time, with wealth and maternal education having a reduced effect. The results suggest an emerging trend of a double burden of malnutrition, with stunted children whose mothers are overweight. The implementation of national nutrition strategies should focus on the vulnerable groups. Increasing women’s access to secondary and post-secondary education would go a long way in harnessing the potential of improved maternal and child nutrition in the country.