Nutritional status of children as indicated by z-scores of the Hmars: a tribe of N.E. India

Introduction: In North-East India, many growth studies have been published for the populations of Assam and Meghalaya. However, no study, especially with regard to the nutritional status of the Hmars of Mizoram has been undertaken. So, more growth and nutritional studies are needed to carry out in populations of Northeast with a view to understanding the nutritional status of children. Objective: To assess the nutritional status of children (based on z-scores) in relation to other demographic and socio-economic conditions of the study population. Methods: The present study was based on anthropometric data from 507 children (boys =255 and girls =252) between 2 to 10 years from four rural villages. Three anthropometric indices were adopted for assessing the nutritional status of children.viz. weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height – which are considered as indicators of nutritional status. The data collected for the present study are quantified and analysed statistically, using SPSS Window software. The differences between two means were tested, using t-student test, while the differences between more than two means were determined, using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Analysis of covariance was also carried out for testing the differences among means, allowing for the effects of other covariates. The differences between proportions were tested, using chi-square test. Multiple regression analysis was also carried out for understanding the effects of socio-economic factors on demographic parameters and growth patterns of children. Logistic regression analysis was used for analyzing the effects of maternal age, sex, income and education and on the three anthropometric indices – weight-for- age, height-for-age and weight-for-height. Result: We observed higher prevalence of underweight and stunting in the higher age group (6-10 years) than in the lower age group (below 6 years) for both boys and girls. The present population is characterized by a high prevalence of underweight (28.40% for both sexes) and a very high prevalence of stunting (48.72% for both sexes) but with low prevalence of wasting (3.16%). Conclusion: The low prevalence of wasting as indicated by weight-for-height is due to the fact that weight-for-height is independent of age, whereas indices of underweight and stunting are dependent of age. Weight-for-height is, therefore, a better indicator of nutritional status.