Preschool Child Nutritional Status in Nepal in 2016: A National Profile and 40-Year Comparative Trend


Background: Preschool child anthropometric status has been assessed nationally in Nepal since
1975, with semi-decadal surveys since 1996, plus several recent, short-interval surveys to track
progress toward achieving a World Health Assembly (WHA) goal to reduce stunting to 24% by 2025.

Objective: We report prevalence of preschool child stunting and wasting from a national survey in 2016
and place findings into the context of national trends and alignment for Nepal to attain its WHA 2025 goal.

Methods: A representative, midyear Policy and Science for Health, Agriculture and Nutrition
(PoSHAN) survey was conducted in 2016 on 5479 children <60 months in 4051 households in 21
village development committees. Child weight and height were measured, and sociodemographic
factors were assessed. Data from previous surveys (Nepal Demographic Health Surveys, PoSHAN)
were also acquired, and rates of stunting (<-2 height-for-age z score) and wasting (<-2 weight-for height
z score) were compared to current World Health Organization standards. Trends were
expressed as average annual rates of reduction (AARR).

Results: Nationally, in 2016, 34.1% of preschoolers were stunted and 13.7% wasted. Stunting was
highest in the Mountains (40.6%) and wasting highest in the Tarai (18.9%). Trend analysis revealed a
steady decline (3.8% AARR) in stunting from 2001 to 2013, with virtually no decline from 2013 to
2016. Wasting has been continually high and variable, at less than or equal to 8%, since 1975.

Conclusions: Following a steady decline in prevalence, preschool child stunting has plateaued at
~35% in Nepal, while wasting has changed little over time, offering the opportunity to inform,
reassess, and adjust, as needed, efforts to reach WHA 2025 goals.

Nepal, preschool, stunting, wasting, nutritional status

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