The association between stunting and overweight in Latin American and Caribbean preschool children

Pablo Duran, Benjamin Caballero, Mercedes de Onis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background: Although some segments of the population continue to suffer from undernutrition, other groups exhibit excess weight gain, resulting in the coexistence of undernutrition and obesity and leading to a dual nutritional burden. Objective: To explore the association between stunting and overweight in preschool children from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data from children 0 to 5 years of age from 79 nationally representative surveys, compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition. This database defines stunting as low height-for-age and overweight as high weight-for-height. These variables were explored with the use of simple and multiple regression models. Results. There were significant differences between subregions in the prevalence of stunting: the prevalence was 7.4% in the Caribbean, 11.3% in South America, and 20.4% in Central America (p < .001). In contrast, the estimated prevalence of overweight was similar between subregions. The overall prevalence rates of stunting and overweight in Latin America and the Caribbean in the year 2000 were 13.7% and 4.3%, respectively. We found an inverse relationship (r = -0.3) between the prevalence rates of overweight and stunting, overall and within subregions. South America exhibited the highest slope and intercept on the regression of overweight on stunting. Conclusions: Different subregions of Latin America and the Caribbean have different prevalence rates of childhood stunting but similar prevalence rates of overweight. There is an inverse relationship between stunting and overweight. The South American subregion had the highest increase and prevalence of overweight of the Latin American region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-305
Number of pages6
JournalFood and nutrition bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Body height
  • Body weight
  • Caribbean
  • Child
  • Child growth
  • Child malnutrition
  • Epidemiology
  • Infant nutrition
  • Latin America Nutrition survey obesity
  • Preschool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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