5.3  Converting measurements to indices

An index is a combination of two measurements or one measurement plus the person’s age. The following are a few indices that you may find useful in your work:

Weight-for-age is an index used in growth monitoring for assessing children who may be underweight. You assess weight-for-age of all children under two years old when you carry out your community-based nutrition (CBN) activities every month.

Height-for age is an index used for assessing stunting (chronic malnutrition in children). Stunted children have poor physical and intellectual performance and lower work output leading to lower productivity at individual level and poor socioeconomic development at the community level. Stunting of children in a given population indicates the fact that the children have suffered from chronic malnutrition so much so that it has affected their linear growth.

Stunting is defined as a low height for age of the child compared to the standard child of the same age. Stunted children have decreased mental and physical productivity capacity.

Weight-for-height is an index used for assessing wasting (acute malnutrition).

Wasting is defined as a low weight for the height of the child compared to the standard child of the same height. Wasted children are vulnerable to infection and stand a greater chance of dying.

Body mass index is the weight of a child or adult in kg divided by their height in metres squared: Weight (kg)/(Height in metres)2

Here is how to calculate each index for children in your community.

Birth weight is weight of the child at birth and is classified as follows:

more than 2500 grams=normal birth weight
1500–2499 grams=low birth weight
less than 1500 grams=very low birth weight
  • How does stunting affect socioeconomic development?

  • You have read that there are a number of ways that stunted children are at a disadvantage, even into their adult lives. They have poor physical and intellectual performance and are more likely to have a lower work output. This means that not only are they less productive at individual level, there are also poor socioeconomic outcomes at the population level.

5.2.4  Head circumference

5.3.1  What is an indicator?