Prevalence of malnutrition in Kenya.East Afr Med J 1999; 76(7):376-80EA
Prevalence of malnutrition among pre-school children can be used to determine the need for nutrition surveillance, nutritional care, or appropriate nutritional intervention programmes. Such data also indicate the target groups and where interventions are required.
To determine the at risk groups, extent and magnitude, and regional distribution of malnutrition.
A cross sectional study.
The survey was conducted in 14 districts representative of the eight provinces of Kenya.
Six thousand, four hundred and nineteen children (3294 males and 3125 females) aged six to 72 months selected using the cluster sampling technique from eight provinces were studied.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Anthropometric measures of height/length and weight were used to do the assessment.
The prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight were 37%, 6% and 27% respectively. Stunting was highest among the 12-23 months age group (44.8%). A statistically significant difference (p = < 0.005) was found between boys and girls with regard to stunting. This difference was more remarkable when the two were stratified by age group where 29% of the boys were stunted compared to 20% of the girls. Geographically, it was found that there exists great regional disparities with a low (22.6%) in Kiambu and a high (56.5%) in Kwale districts.
These results show that malnutrition is still a serious public health problem in Kenya and requires urgent attention. The problem since the first survey in 1977 shows an upward trend, suggesting deterioration over the years. Well thought out and targeted intervention programmes are long overdue. The results of this survey and others emphasize the importance of having a well established surveillance system which would ensure necessary and timely action.