Rationale and definition:
This indicator will measure children under age 5 who exhibit stunting and wasting. The indicator will track children who are a) neither stunted nor wasted, b) stunted but not wasted, c) wasted but not stunted, and c) both wasted and stunted, as interventions differ for the two conditions. This will provide an accurate picture of under-5 nutrition. Proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life is vital for children to reach their full potential. Stunting and wasting in children can have severe and potentially irreversible impacts on their physical, mental, and emotional development.
Stunting is low height for age; the indicator measures children age 5 years and under whose height for age is two or more standard deviations below the median height for age of a reference population. Stunting is caused by chronic nutrient deficiency and/or illness.
Wasting is low weight for age; the indicator measures children age 5 years and under whose weight for age is two or more standard deviations below the median weight for age of a reference population. Wasting is caused by acute food shortages and/or disease, and is strongly correlated with under-5 mortality.
This indicator can be disaggregated by sex, age, household income, and other socioeconomic and spatial qualifiers.
Comments and limitations:
When monitoring in the MDG annual report, UNICEF includes data on underweight, stunting, and wasting. While this indicator includes two metrics, these measurements (height, weight, age) are generally taken at the same time, so there is no additional measurement or monitoring burden.
Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:
Primary data source:
Household survey and/or administrative data from health records.
Potential lead agency or agencies:
The indicator is routinely measured and data could be collected by UNICEF and WHO.1