5.4.2 Measuring fat-free mass (muscle mass)

An accurate way to measure fat-free mass is to measure the Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC). The MUAC is the circumference of the upper arm at the midway between the shoulder tip and the elbow tip on the left arm. The mid-arm point is determined by measuring the distance from the shoulder tip to the elbow and dividing it by two. A low reading indicates a loss of muscle mass.

MUAC is a good screening tool in determining the risk of mortality among children, and people living with HIV/AIDS. MUAC is the only anthropometric measure for assessing nutritional status among pregnant women. It is also very simple for use in screening a large number of people, especially during community level screening for community-based nutrition interventions or during emergency situations.

MUAC is therefore used as a screening tool for community based nutrition programmes such as an outpatient therapeutic programme (OTP), for community-based interventions, supplementary feeding programmes and enhanced outreach programmes throughout Ethiopia. MUAC is also used for screening target children and pregnant women for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

5.4.1  Measurements of fat-mass (fatness)

5.4.3  Measuring the MUAC of children