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nutritional and disease ecology 4

nutritional and disease ecology 4 - What does body size and...

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What does body size and composition tell us about health in children? Size and composition are useful indicators of health because they are simple and non- invasive. The health of children is an indicator of the conditions and strains of society and in understanding how, where and why growth faltering occurs, organizations can attempt to alleviate health risks for children (Tanner, 1986). There are three ways in which a child’s health is usually measured: clinical assessment, biochemical assessment and anthropometric assessment. It is anthropometric assessment that specifically focuses on the measurements – calculating size and composition and their correlation and incite into health. The size of a child relates to its physical appearance as in height and stature, whereas composition tells us more about the internal percentages of fat, muscle and bone in a human. These anthropometric measurements can often tell us whether a child is healthy, if a child fits the average health statistics forwarded by such organisations as the World Health Organisation (WHO), or unhealthy, if a child deviates from the average health statistics. However, there have been many contested views on the causation of growth faltering, such as its adaptive advantage originally forwarded by Seckler, or its genetic biases. This essay will identify how such measurements have aided the evaluation of a child’s health and the main health implications for discrepancies in child’s size and composition. Further, this essay will also focus on the different theories that highlight the causes of such growth faltering in children. Primarily, I wish to clarify the value of anthropometric measurement stating what is measured of the child and its importance in understanding the health of a child. The most common measurements taken of children to assess their general health are height and weight; although other measurements may also be taken from leg/arm circumference, skin-fold thickness and Body Mass Index (BMI). Anthropometric measurements are compared and a mean average used to base definitions of unhealthy or healthy children. Such studies on the weight of children are undertaken by organizations such as the WHO, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and alternative government records – depending on the government. James Waterlow forwarded his early model of functional classification which used the height and weight measurements to identify types of growth faltering. If a child is of normal height but underweight they are wasted. If they are short for their age but are of 1
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average weight for their height they are stunted. Finally, if they are both short and thin for their age they are wasted and stunted. However, what Waterlow failed to include in his functional classification was obesity in children and overnutrition. The reasons and implications for these types of growth faltering are explored later. There are several reasons that a child may waste and appear thin and gaunt. Firstly,
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nutritional and disease ecology 4 - What does body size and...

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