Menu ENN Search

Update of UNICEF/WHO/World Bank database on child malnutrition

Summary of research1

Location: Global

What we know: A joint database on child malnutrition is maintained by UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank. To date this has not included wasting estimates.

What this article adds: The UNICEF/WHO/World bank database has been updated. It includes global and regional estimates of wasting and severe wasting. Globally in 2012, amongst children under five years, 162 million were stunted, 99 million underweight, 51 million wasted, 17 million severely wasted and 44 million overweight. Between 2000 and 2012, the prevalence of stunting, underweight, wasting and severe wasting fell while overweight increased. There is a higher proportion of child stunting, underweight, wasting or severe wasting in Asia.

On September 20, 2013, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank (WB) updated their joint database on child malnutrition and released new global and regional estimates for 2012. For the first time, the database contains global and regional estimates of wasting and severe wasting. A recently published note summarises the main findings, introduces accompanying interactive data dashboards, and highlights pertinent methodological notes.

Main findings

Stunting

Underweight

Wasting and severe wasting

Overweight

Data dashboards

A suite of six on-line interactive dashboards were developed to enable users to explore the entire time-series (1990 – 2012) of global and regional estimates of prevalence and burden for stunting, underweight, overweight, wasting and severe wasting indicators by various country regional and income group classifications. The dashboards are available on-line on each agency’s website:

UNICEF: http://www.childinfo.org/malnutrition _dashboard.html
WHO: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.wrapper.nutrition-1-1
World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/childmalnutrition

Methodological notes

For this update, new releases of the following data sources are used: (a) the new under-5 population estimates (UN population division, 2013) were applied as weighting factors to each country survey used in order to derive the regional and global prevalence estimates and to calculate the burden (number of affected children), (b) the number of underlying national surveys used increased from 639 to 694, currently representing over 90 percent of all children under-five globally, and (c) the new World Bank income classification released in July 2013.

The approach and methodology used remains unchanged with the exception of a minor refinement better to reflect the year in which various country survey data were collected2. Previously, the survey year was exclusively based on the median of year ranges, while in this round the median of month ranges for survey enumeration whenever available was also considered.

Severe wasting is included in this round, given that it is commonly used in emergency settings to reflect severe acute malnutrition. The joint UNICEF/ WHO/WB data set provides this information for the national aggregate, while disaggregated subnational estimates are available from the WHO global database (www.who.int/nutgrowthdb). The reason for presenting only the latest estimates (2012) for wasting and severe wasting is that these indicators are very responsive to infection and changes in food availability. A child’s weight relative to its height can drop quickly but also bounce back up with appropriate interventions or stabilisation of a crisis. Malnutrition prevalence estimates are generated from household surveys that only allow for a snapshot view at one short point in time (usually a few months long). In addition, surveys do not capture the duration of wasting and averages during the year are unavailable. Wasting and severe wasting thus, show fluctuations across surveys that do not necessarily reflect the whole spectrum of possible variability. A more appropriate way to have accurate estimates for these conditions would be to use annual incidence (i.e. number of cases that occur in a population during a given year). However, estimates of incidence at national or even regional level do not exist. Therefore, the estimates of prevalence are a proxy and should be interpreted with caution as even the presented confidence intervals may or may not span over the fluctuations that have occurred.

Contrary to wasting and severe wasting, the prevalence estimates of stunting, underweight, and overweight are more stable and less reactive to rapid changes in the conditions children live in.

Show footnotes

1This database update replaces the previous version of joint estimates released in the report: Levels and Trends in Child Malnutrition: UNICEF-WHO-The World Bank Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates available on-line at: http://www.who.int/entity/nutgrowthdb/jme_unicef_who_wb.pdf

2Methodological details and background papers are available from http://www.who.int/nutgrowthdb/estimates2012/en

More like this

NEX: Joint UNICEF/WHO/The World Bank Child malnutrition database

In September 2013 UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank updated their joint database on child malnutrition and released new global and regional estimates for 2012. For the first time,...

NEX: New global malnutrition estimates

The new joint estimates from the inter-agency team (UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank Group) on child stunting, overweight, underweight and wasting show that stunting is declining...

FEX: Children concurrently wasted and stunted: A meta- analysis of prevalence data of children 6-59 months from 84 countries

Research summary1 Location: Global What we know: Wasting and stunting are often present in the same geographical populations and can exist concurrently in the same children,...

FEX: An investment framework for nutrition: Reaching the global targets for stunting, anaemia, breastfeeding and wasting

Summary of research* Location: Global What we know: Child malnutrition has lifelong consequences for heath, human capital, economic development, prosperity and equity. Global...

FEX: Wasting and Stunting Technical Interest Group (WaSt TIG) meeting

On the 15th of January 2018 the Wasting and Stunting (WaSt) Technical Interest Group (TIG) held their third face-to-face meeting at Trinity College, Oxford. This group of 30...

FEX: From the Editor

There is no single theme for this issue of Field Exchange but lots of interesting and wide ranging material. A good place to start this editorial is to note the short research...

FEX: Stunting and wasting in children under two years old in a semi-nomadic pastoralist population in Kenya

By Amelia Reese-Masterson, Masumi Maehara and Mark Murage Gathii Amelia Reese-Masterson is Research Advisor in the Nutrition, Food Security and Livelihoods Unit at...

FEX: Technical brief on the cost of malnutrition

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Poor nutrition carries a significant economic burden at individual, national and global levels and prevents poverty...

FEX: Global Nutrition Report

This Global Nutrition Report (GNR) is the first in an annual series. It tracks worldwide progress in improving nutrition status, identifies bottlenecks to change, highlights...

FEX: Double Burden of obesity and malnutrition in Western Sahara refugees

Summary of published research1 There is growing recognition of a ‘double burden’ of malnutrition among populations in both affluent and less-affluent countries, i.e. the...

FEX: Financing the sustainable scale-up of CMAM in high-burden countries

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Investment in the scale-up of community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) is needed to reduce global...

Resource: Children who are both wasted and stunted are also underweight and have a high risk of death: a descriptive epidemiology of multiple anthropometric deficits using data from 51 countries

Abstract Background: Wasting and stunting are common. They are implicated in the deaths of almost two million children each year and account for over 12% of...

NEX: Regional nutrition strategies to address the double burden in the Eastern Mediterranean

Dr Ayoub Al Jawaldeh has been the Regional Adviser for Nutrition in the WHO Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean Region since 2009, leading the Regional Nutrition...

FEX: Nutritional status of children and pregnant and lactating women in relief camps in post-tsunami Sri Lanka

Summary of published research 1 The post-tsunami survey reported below describes a decline in nutrition and health status amongst women and children, and makes...

NEX: Regional nutrition strategies to address the double burden in the Eastern Mediterranean

Dr Ayoub Al Jawaldeh has been the Regional Adviser for Nutrition in the WHO Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean Region since 2009, leading the Regional Nutrition...

FEX: Algorithms for converting NCHS references

Summary of published research1 One of the challenges thrown up by the development and introduction of the new WHO growth standards is that surveys using the new growth...

Blog post: Stunting & Wasting in South Asia- Reflections from a Regional conference

Lire ce blog en francais Over the years the scope of ENN's work has expanded beyond a focus on humanitarian contexts to encompass a broader set of issues around drivers of...

FEX: Drought, conflict and undernutrition in Ethiopia

Summary of research1 Location: Ethiopia What we know: Conflict and drought can have negative impacts on child undernutrition. What this article adds: A recent pooled...

FEX: Effect of nutrition survey ‘cleaning criteria’ on estimates of malnutrition prevalence and disease burden: secondary data analysis

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Standardised methods for collection and reporting malnutrition prevalence data in nutrition surveys are used. What this...

FEX: UNICEF global SAM management update (2012)

Summary of report1 Thanks to Saul Guerrero, ACF-UK, for preparing this summary. Location: Global What we know: Mapping of global SAM management requires baseline and...

Close

Reference this page

Summary of research (2014). Update of UNICEF/WHO/World Bank database on child malnutrition. Field Exchange 47, April 2014. p32. www.ennonline.net/fex/47/malnutrition