Growth and malnutrition of rural Zimbabwean children (6–17 years of age)



The rural environment is an important factor in delayed growth in developing countries. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of poor rural living conditions on the growth of a Shona sample in Zimbabwe. In total, 982 subjects aged 6–17 years were analyzed. Mean values of height, weight, skinfolds (triceps, subscapular, suprailiac, biceps, medial calf), cormic index, body mass index (BMI), arm composition (total upper arm area, upper arm muscle area, arm fat area, and arm fat index), fat percentage (%F), centripetal fat ratio (CFR), and the contribution of each skinfold to the adiposity of the trunk and upper limbs are presented. Weight, height, BMI, cormic index, SSCP, TRCP, arm circumference, and arm composition are compared with NHANES percentiles. Boys and girls showed stunting and underweight at ages 11–15 and 8–15, respectively; boys presented particularly severe malnutrition and their means of height and weight were below the 10th percentile. The means of arm circumference, UMA, UFA, and TRCP were below the 15th percentile in both sexes. The contribution of the skinfolds generally showed an overall prevalence of TRCP in both sexes; the contribution of SSCP was prevalent only for the 16- to 17-year-old boys. Males presented a higher CFR than girls after 14 years while females showed an irregular pattern. There was a high incidence of brachycormia and mesocormia in females and males, respectively. Height, weight, and BMI were similar to the values observed in other sub-Saharan countries, although body size was slightly larger than in South Africa and smaller than in Tanzania. The results provide a useful database for future comparisons. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.