Table 1

Case definitions and anthropometric indicators in global health policy/practice

Anthropometric indicatorProcess of deteriorationState if low*Commonly interpreted as
Height-for-ageStuntingStuntedChronic malnutrition
Weight-for-ageGrowth falteringUnderweightMixed acute/chronic malnutrition
(BMI in older children)
WastingWastedAcute malnutrition†
  • *Severe deficit=<−3z-scores (standard deviations) from WHO Growth standards median. Moderate deficit=−3 to <−2z-scores; −2 to +2=‘normal’.

  • †Bilateral oedema is also used to define oedematous severe acute malnutrition (kwashiorkor).

  • BMI, body mass index.