Child growth standards

Q. Do these new standards change current estimates of overweight and under-nutrition in children?

A. Yes, estimates are going to change because of differences in the pattern of growth between the new standards and the old reference, especially during infancy. The magnitude of the change in the estimates however will vary by age, sex, growth indicator, and the underlying nutritional status in the population being evaluated.

A notable effect is that stunting (low height for age) will be greater throughout childhood when assessed using the new WHO standards compared to the previous international reference. There will be a substantial increase in underweight rates during the first half of infancy (i.e., 0-6 months) and a decrease thereafter.

For wasting (low weight for length/height), the main difference between the new standards and the old reference is during infancy (i.e., up to about 70 cm length) when wasting rates will be substantially higher using the new WHO standards. With respect to overweight, use of the new WHO standards will result in a greater prevalence that will vary by age, sex and nutritional status of the index population.

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