An epidemiological comparative study of weight and height parameters for nutritional assessment of adolescents in a rural area of North India
Research Question: What is the simplest way to assess the nutritional status of adolescents? Objectives: (1) To compare and identify the most appropriate method for rapid assessment of nutritional status of rural adolescents using height and weight parameters. (2) To assess whether EHPA chart is superior over the conventional method of using BMI for the nutritional assessment of adolescents or not. Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Study Setting: Eight registered schools in the field practice area of Rural Health Training Center, Bilaspur, Department of Community Medicine, Muzaffarnagar Medical College, Muzaffarnagar, U.P., INDIA. Sample size: 467 i.e., all the school going rural adolescents of both sexes (11-19 yrs of age). Study variables: Height and weight. Methodology: The weight and height of all the study subjects was recorded by portable dial weighing machine and stadiometer respectively with due permission of the school principal. Age of subjects were recorded from the school register as on their last birthday. The data were subjected to comparision for nutritional assessment by using two study tools i.e., conventional BMI and EHPA chart. Statistical analysis: Proportion and Chi square test by using epi info statistical package. Result: A total of 467 adolescents were examined. By using conventional BMI, 93.79% of adolescents were classified as underweight and 4.06% as normal; however with the help of EHPA chart it was found that 38.97% adolescents were underweight and 58.67% were normal. Conclusion: Existing norms of using conventional BMI for assessing nutritional status of adolescents is inappropriate as far too many normal adolescents fall in undernourished category, whereas EHPA chart prevents such fallacies.