Nutritional status and risk factors for stunting in preschool children in Bhutan

Yunhee Kang, Víctor M. Aguayo, Rebecca K. Campbell, Laigden Dzed, Vandana Joshi, Jillian L. Waid, Suvadra Datta Gupta, Nancy J. Haselow, Keith P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Childhood malnutrition remains endemic in South Asia, although the burden varies by country. We examined the anthropometric status and risk factors for malnutrition among children aged 0–59 months through the 2015 National Nutrition Survey in Bhutan. We assessed in 1,506 children nutritional status (by z-scores of height-for-age [HAZ], weight-for-height [WHZ], and weight-for-age [WAZ]), estimating prevalence, adjusted for survey design, of stunting, wasting, underweight, and overweight (<−2 for HAZ, WHZ, and WAZ and >2 for WHZ). Children were also assessed for pedal oedema. We conducted multivariable linear/logistic regression analysis to identify child, maternal, and household risk factors for childhood undernutrition and overweight, excluding children with oedema (1.7%). Mean (SE) HAZ, WHZ, and WAZ were −0.82 (0.13), 0.10 (0.04), and −0.42 (0.05), respectively. Prevalence of stunting, wasting, underweight, and overweight were 21.2%, 2.6%, 7.4%, and 2.6%, respectively. In multivariable regressions, risk of stunting significantly increased by age: 5.3% at <6 months (reference), 16.8% at 6–23 months (OR = 3.06, 95% CI [0.63, 14.8]), and 25.0% at 24–59 months (OR = 5.07, [1.16, 22.2]). Risk of stunting also decreased in a dose–response manner with improved maternal education. None of the examined variables were significantly associated with wasting or overweight. Despite a WHZ distribution comparable with the World Health Organization reference (with ~2.6% vs. an expected 2.5% of children beyond 2 z in each tail), stunting persists in one fifth of preschool Bhutanese children, suggesting that other nutrient deficits or nonnutritional factors may be constraining linear growth for a substantial proportion of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12653
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Bhutan
  • South Asia
  • childhood stunting
  • nutritional trend
  • risk factors
  • wasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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