Childhood undernutrition and its predictors in a rural health and demographic surveillance system site in South Africa

Sewela Elizabeth Perpetua Modjadji*, Elizabeth Sphiwe Madiba

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Background: Overweight and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate in South Africa, while childhood undernutrition remains persistently high. This study determined the magnitude and predictors of stunting and underweight among schoolchildren in the Dikgale and Health Demographic Surveillance System Site, a rural site in South Africa. Methods: A cross sectional study using multistage sampling was conducted among 508 schoolchildren and their mothers. Anthropometric measurements were taken from children and their mothers, while sociodemographic information was obtained from mothers using a questionnaire. The World Health Organization Anthro Plus was used to generate height-for-age and weight-for-age z-scores to indicate stunting and underweight, respectively, among the children. Maternal overweight and obesity were assessed using body mass index. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the predictors of stunting and underweight among schoolchildren. Results: Twenty-two percent (22%) of children were stunted and 27% were underweight, while 27.4% of the mothers were overweight and 42.3% were obese. The odds of being stunted were lower in younger children, whereas having a mother who was overweight/obese and had a short stature increased the odds of stunting. Access to water, having a refrigerator, and having a young mother were protective against being underweight. Having a mother who was overweight/obese increased the odds of being underweight. Conclusions: The study showed a high prevalence of stunting and underweight among children, and overweight and obesity among mothers, indicating a household double burden of malnutrition. The age of the child and maternal overweight/obesity and short stature were predictors of stunting and underweight, while having a younger mother and access to water and a refrigerator were protective against being underweight. The need for an evidence-based and feasible nutrition program for schoolchildren, especially those in rural schools, cannot be over-emphasized.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3021
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Maternal overweight/obesity
  • Rural context
  • Schoolchildren
  • South africa
  • Stunting
  • Undernutrition
  • Underweight

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