Objective: To evaluate if mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) can be used for obesity screening in preschool children.
Methods: 1,090 children aged from 12 to 59.99 months were studied. Personal information, weight, height and MUAC were obtained. Sensitivity and specificity to detect obese children were calculated for MUAC to age and MUAC to height z scores. Obesity was defined as weight to height z score >2.
Results: 6.6% of the children had a weight to height z score >2. The best association between sensitivity (76.5%) and specificity (77.9%) to detect obese children for MUAC to age was obtained with a z score of 0.7. In terms of MUAC to height, the best association between sensitivity (79.4%) and specificity (77.6%) to detect obese children was obtained with a 0.6 score.
Conclusions: MUAC to height z score was not advantageous for obesity screening when compared to MUAC to age z score. MUAC to age z score seems to be an adequate alternative method for obesity screening in preschool children.