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Open Access Measuring anthropometric indicators through nutrition surveillance in humanitarian settings: Options, issues, and ways forward

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The technical discourse on nutrition surveillance started decades ago, and the first technical guidelines were proposed in mid-1970s. In spite of this long history, little evidence and consensus exists on the best methods for conducting nutrition surveillance, and on the validity of data produced by these approaches. Multiple nutrition surveillance systems exist in humanitarian settings; however, the validity and usefulness of data produced by these systems are often questionable. In this paper, we outline and define five major methodological approaches to collecting child anthropometric data through surveillance: repeated surveys, community-based sentinel sites, mass screenings, admission data from feeding centers, and data from health clinics. We discuss outstanding methodological and practical challenges with direct implications for quality, validity, and interpretability of collected data and highlight comparative advantages and disadvantages of different methods. We also propose ways forward to building a better evidence base by documenting the strengths and limitations of different approaches, with the eventual goal of achieving consensus on the best ways to collect anthropometric data through surveillance.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • 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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