Prevalence and factors associated with stunting and thinness among school-age children in Arba Minch Health and Demographic Surveillance Site, Southern Ethiopia.PLoS One. 2018; 13(11):e0206659.Plos
Despite consistent economic growth in the country, malnutrition remains one of the major public health problems in Ethiopia. The prevalence of malnutrition and its associated factors are well studied among under-five children. However, there is a paucity of evidence among older children in developing countries including Ethiopia. The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of stunting and thinness and their associated factors among school-age children.
A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among randomly selected 389 school-age children in Arba Minch Health and Demographic Surveillance Site, Southern Ethiopia, during April and May 2017. Height for age and body mass index for age z scores were calculated using WHO Anthro Plus software as indicators of stunting and thinness respectively. A binary logistic regression model was used to assess the association between independent and outcome variables.
The prevalence of stunting and thinness were 41.9% (95% CI: 37-47) and 8.0% (95% CI: 5.4-10.8) respectively. The likelihood of stunting was significantly higher among children within the age group of 12-14 years old (AOR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.78-4.95); children who were male (AOR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.21-3.10); children living in households with medium wealth terciles (AOR = 2.90, 95%CI: 1.39-6.04); and children who were non-enrolled in schools (AOR = 2.25, 95% CI: (1.37-3.70). Moreover, thinness was 63% less common among children who had a dietary diversity score of <4 food groups (AOR = 0.37, 95%CI: 0.16-0.89).
The prevalence of thinness is low when compared to the prevalence reported by a single national school health and nutrition survey in Ethiopia. Stunting is a major public health concern. Therefore, this finding warrants the need to implement school health and nutrition programs to improve the nutritional status of school-age children in the study area. The interventions should focus towards both gender and special emphasis should also be given to increase the enrollment of children in schools. In addition, effort should be taken by stakeholders in different hierarchies to improve the family wealth status.