Objectives To analyze the nutritional status of Ugandan school-children in a cross-sectional and longitudinal perspective, considering the effect of age imprecision.
Materials and methods Anthropometric measurements of 831 school-children (381 males and 450 females) were analyzed. A subsample of 246 children was measured in July 2014 and 2015. Stunting (based on height-for-age Z-scores), underweight (weight-for-age), and thinness (body mass index-for-age) prevalence were calculated. Three different ages were used: declared (from schools registers), attributed (based on multiple information sources), and bootstrap (from 10,000 replicates). Significant differences among malnutrition prevalence calculated with different ages and in different groups were assessed by means of bootstrap analysis. Longitudinal analysis was conducted using a paired t test.
Results The mean prevalence of malnutrition calculated with declared, attributed, or bootstrap ages were very similar: stunting (11.9–12.7); underweight (5.4–5.9); thinness (3.3–3.7); and obesity (0.7). Undernutrition was more prevalent among older children, while obesity was mostly associated with young age. Obesity was equally distributed among sexes, while undernutrition was more prevalent among females of up to 10 years of age and males above 10 years.
The longitudinal analysis indicated a reduction in underweight and thinness, and an increase in stunting, especially among older children.
Discussion Age imprecision did not significantly affect malnutrition estimates. Despite the decline in the prevalence of thinness and underweight observed over a 1-year period, undernutrition persists, with an observed rise in stunting. On the other hand, obesity is starting to appear. Public health efforts are required to eliminate stunting and address the emerging burden of obesity.