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Adult malnutrition: simple assessment techniques for use in emergencies

  • Anna Ferro-Luzzi (a1) and W.P.T. James (a2)
Abstract

The recent recognition of the problem of adult malnutrition requires methods for specifying the severity of undernutrition. The measurement of mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) can now be used as a screening method for underweight (normally assessed from the BMI) or as an additional criterion with the BMI to identify the preferential loss of peripheral tissue stores of fat and protein. By analysing and extrapolating anthropometric data from nine detailed adult surveys from Asia, Africa and the Pacific a series of MUAC cut-off points have now been identified to allow the screening of individual adults under extreme conditions, e.g. during famine. Grade 4 malnutrition is now specified for those with a MUAC <200 mm for men and <190 mm for women since these MUAC values correspond to the loss of fat stores at BMI of <13. Food supplementation is clearly needed in these individuals. Extreme wasting (grade 5 malnutrition) corresponds to MUAC values of <170 and <160 mm for men and women respectively. These adults have extremely low BMI, i.e. about 10, have lost mast, if not all, of their protein stores and are at a high risk of imminent death. These individuals will need immediate special feeding regimens to ensure their sumval. The sex-specific MUAC values corresponding to BMI of 16, 13 and 10 can now therefore be used for rapid screening and the choice of remedial action.

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References
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
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