The forgotten agenda of wasting in Southeast Asia: Burden, determinants and overlap with stunting: A review of nationally representative cross-sectional demographic and health surveys in six countries
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNutrients. 2020, 12 (2), 559 10.3390/nu12020559
Childhood wasting is among the most prevalent forms of undernutrition globally. The Southeast Asia region is home to many wasted children, but wasting is not recognized as a public health problem and its epidemiology is yet to be fully examined. This analysis aimed to determine the burden of wasting, its predictors, and the level of wasting and stunting concurrence. Datasets from Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys in six countries in the region were analyzed. The pooled weighted prevalence for wasting and concurrent wasting and stunting among children 0–59 months in the six countries was 8.9%, 95% CI (8.0–9.9) and 1.6%, 95% CI (1.5–1.8), respectively. This prevalence is approximately 12-fold higher than the 0.7% prevalence of high-income countries; and translated into an absolute number of 1,088,747 children affected by wasting and 272,563 concurrent wasting and stunting. Wasting prevalence was 50 percent higher in the 0–23-month age group. Predictors for wasting included source of drinking water, wealth index, urban residence, child’s age and history of illness and mother’s body mass index. In conclusion, our analysis showed that wasting is a serious public health problem in the region that should be addressed urgently using both preventive and curative approaches.