The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition
Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-8
Bioline Code: hn16012
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge
The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-8
© Copyright 2016 - The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition
Are there changes in the nutritional status of children of Oportunidades families in rural Chiapas, Mexico? A cohort prospective study|
García-Parra, Esmeralda; Ochoa-Díaz-López, Héctor; García-Miranda, Rosario; Moreno-Altamirano, Laura; Solís-Hernández, Roberto & Molina-Salazar, Raúl
Background: In Mexico, despite that the fact that several social programs have been implemented, chronic
undernutrition is still a public health problem affecting 1.5 million children of <5 years. Chiapas ranks first in
underweight and stunting at national level with a stunting prevalence of 31.4 % whereas for its rural population is
44.2 %. The purpose of this paper is to determine if the nutritional status of a cohort of children living in poor rural
communities under Oportunidades has changed. We were interested in assessing the nutrition evolution of the
children who were initially diagnosed as stunted and of those who were diagnosed as normal. Oportunidades is an
anti-poverty program of the Mexican government consisting mainly in monetary transfers to the families living in
Methods: A 9-year cohort prospective study was conducted with nutritional evaluations of 222 children.
Anthropometric indices were constructed from measurements of weight, height, and age of the children whose
nutritional status was classified following WHO standards.
Results: The results showed that although these children were Oportunidades beneficiaries for 9 years and their
families improved their living conditions, children still had a high prevalence of stunting (40.1 %) and 69.6 % had
not recovered yet. Children who were initially diagnosed with normal nutritional status and became stunted 2 years
later had a higher risk (relative risk (RR) 5.69, 2.95–10.96) of continuing stunted at school age and adolescence.
Conclusions: Oportunidades has not impacted, as expected, the nutritional status of the study population. These
findings pose the question: Why has not the nutritional status of children improved, although the living conditions
of their families have significantly improved? This might be the result of an adaptation process achieved through a
decrease of growth velocity. It is important to make efforts to watch the growth of the children during their first 3
years of age, to focus on improving the diet of women at fertile age and pay special attention to environmental
conditions to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition.
Child malnutrition; Stunting; Social programs; Poverty; Oportunidades / Prospera; Chiapas; Mexico
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