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Open Access Undernutrition in the Kora Mudi tribal population, West Bengal, India: A comparison of body mass index and mid-upper-arm circumference

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Background. Undernutrition among adult tribal women is a major health problem in India.

Objectives. To compare the utility of two different anthropometric indicators of chronic energy deficiency (CED) among tribal Kora Mudi women and to determine which of these two is a better indicator of undernutrition.

Methods. A cross-sectional study of 123 individuals was conducted. The body mass index (BMI) and mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC) were used to evaluate CED.

Results. The prevalence of CED based on BMI less than 18.5 was 55.3%, and the prevalence of CED based on MUAC less than 22.0 cm was 51.2%. Both of these prevalence rates are classified in the very high-prevalence category (≥ 40%) and indicate a critical situation according to World Health Organization recommendations. Mean BMI increased significantly with higher quartile of MUAC. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of CED between the MUAC quartiles. The risk ratio for CED for women in the lowest quartile of MUAC was 9.33 compared with those in the highest quartile. There was a significant positive association between MUAC and BMI. Regression analysis demonstrated that MUAC had a significant positive impact on BMI; the percentage of the variation in BMI explained by MUAC was 52%. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that overall, 82.11% of cases of CED were correctly classified with the use of MUAC. The use of MUAC correctly diagnosed 82.35% of cases of CED and 81.82% of women with normal nutritional status.

Conclusions. This population was facing severe nutritional stress. With limited resources and in the absence of skilled manpower, it may be more appropriate to use MUAC for human population surveys, particularly among tribal populations of developing countries.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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