Stunting and its determinants among adolescents in four schools of Bangalore city: Height for age- a vital metric for nutritional assessment
Keywords:Stunting, Adolescent Nutrition, Nutritional Status, Iron Folic Acid Supplements, Schools
Background: National Family Health Surveys in India have not included nutritional status of the crucial age group of 10-14 years, when pubertal growth spurt typically occurs. BMI-for-age is commonly used to assess adolescent nutritional status which may misclassify stunted adolescents as normal or overweight. Objectives: To estimate prevalence and determinants of stunting among adolescents (10 to 19 years) in Bangalore city and to estimate the proportion of adolescents who are stunted, but otherwise assessed as normal or overweight using BMI-for-age. Methods: Cross sectional study conducted in four schools of Bangalore city using a self-administered questionnaire to capture socio-demographic details, dietary patterns and physical activity. WHO Anthroplus software was used to classify nutritional status based on height-for-age and BMI-for-age. Multiple logistic regression analysis was done to calculate adjusted odds ratios of independent co-variates associated with stunting. Results: Overall prevalence of stunting was 14% (95%CI:11.5-16.5%); 14.3% among females (95%CI:10.7-17.9%) and 13.6% among males (95%CI: 10.2-17.0%). Determinants of stunting were late adolescence [AOR=1.90(1.24-2.90),P=0.03], lower socio-economic class [AOR=2.75(1.39-5.41),P=0.03] and not taking weekly iron and folic acid supplements [AOR=2.78(1.48-5.21),P=0.001] Four of every five stunted children (81%) were classified as normal/ overweight/ obese using BMI-for-age. Conclusion: Stunting is a problem among urban adolescents in Bangalore. Height-for-age is a vital metric for assessing nutritional status of adolescents along with other metrics. We recommend strengthening of weekly iron and folic acid supplementation in schools and culturally specific targeted nutritional interventions for adolescents from economically weaker sections of society using a multi-sectoral and participatory approach.
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