Measurement and standardization protocols for anthropometry used in the construction of a new international growth reference

Food Nutr Bull. 2004 Mar;25(1 Suppl):S27-36. doi: 10.1177/15648265040251S104.


Thorough training, continuous standardization, and close monitoring of the adherence to measurement procedures during data collection are essential for minimizing random error and bias in multicenter studies. Rigorous anthropometry and data collection protocols were used in the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study to ensure high data quality. After the initial training and standardization, study teams participated in standardization sessions every two months for a continuous assessment of the precision and accuracy of their measurements. Once a year the teams were restandardized against the WHO lead anthropometrist, who observed their measurement techniques and retrained any deviating observers. Robust and precise equipment was selected and adapted for field use. The anthropometrists worked in pairs, taking measurements independently, and repeating measurements that exceeded preset maximum allowable differences. Ongoing central and local monitoring identified anthropometrists deviating from standard procedures, and immediate corrective action was taken. The procedures described in this paper are a model for research settings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry*
  • Child
  • Child Development* / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Growth and Development
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Quality Control
  • Reference Standards
  • World Health Organization