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Mid Upper Arm Circumference and Weight-for-Height Z-score as Indicators of Severe Acute Malnutrition (2012)

Author: Tamsin Walters, Victoria Sibson, Marie McGrath
Year: 2012
Resource type: Report

 A consultation of operational agencies and academic specialists to understand the evidence, identify knowledge gaps and to inform operational guidance.


The treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is a cost-effective, evidence-based ‘direct’ nutrition intervention, according to the 2008 Lancet Nutrition Series. Recent years have seen a significant scale-up of community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) to treat children with SAM. Mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) is increasingly recommended to field operations as the indicator of choice for screening and admission to CMAM programming. However, uncertainty has remained amongst practitioners, and difference of opinion amongst practitioners and academic specialists, concerning the strength of the evidence to support this recommendation and the consequences for children identified with SAM using weight-for-height zscore (WHZ) only.

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Tamsin Walters, Victoria Sibson, Marie McGrath (2012). Mid Upper Arm Circumference and Weight-for-Height Z-score as Indicators of Severe Acute Malnutrition (2012). www.ennonline.net/muacandweightforheightindicators