Use and interpretation of anthropometric indicators of nutritional status. WHO Working Group

Bull World Health Organ. 1986;64(6):929-41.


Studies carried out during the last decade have led to a better understanding of the value of anthropometric indicators of nutritional status. The present report concentrates on data concerning 0-5-year-old children and examines the indices of weight and height and the biological significance of "wasting" and "stunting". The need for a reference population as well as for a standard or target is recognized and the advantages and disadvantages of local versus international reference populations are discussed. In the analysis of data, preference is given to the use of standard deviation (SD) scores and to the presentation of whole distributions. Cut-offs, for example -2SD, are needed for comparison of prevalences and for screening of populations. Sequential or serial measurements and the increasing use of growth velocities are discussed and their uses and difficulties are outlined.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values
  • World Health Organization