Indicators included in the CE-DAT database

Global and Severe Acute Malnutrition
Global and Severe Chronic Malnutrition
Global and Severe Underweight
Other indicators: MUAC, Oedema, BMI

Crude Mortality Rate
Under 5 Mortality Rate
Other indicators: Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate

Measles coverage
Other indicators: BCG, Polio, DTP coverage

Measuring malnutrition

The nutritional status of a population is ususally measured in children 6 to 59 months old. This is because children are more succeptible to changes in their diet than adults and will therefore be the first to show signs of food deficiency. To assess the nutrition status of a population, we therefore assess the nutritional status of each child in a sample of the total population. There are several ways to measure malnutrition.

Weight-for-Height (wasting)
The index of weight-for-height reflects recent weight loss or gain. It is the best indicator of assessing the level of acute malnutrition in children. In order to assess malnutrition, individual measurement of height and weight are compared to an international reference value for a normal and well-fed child population.

Height-for-Age (Stunting)
The index of height-for-age reflects longstanding nutritional defficiencies and is the method used to assess the level of chronic malnutrition in children. Individual measurement of height and age are compared to an international reference value for a normal and well-fed child population.

Weight-for-Age (underweight)
The index of Weight-for-Age reflects both the long-term (stunting) and short-term (wasting) nutritional status of children. Individual measurement of weight and age are compared to an international reference value for a normal and well-fed child population. The measurement of weight-for-age is used in the Millennium Development Goals to assess progress in reducing the proportion of the world’s people who suffer from hunger.

A child is considered malnourished if any of these indexes fall below two standard deviations (<-2SD) of the median value of the international normal and well-fed reference population. Severe malnutrition is when the indexes fall below 3 SD of the median value.

Measuring mortality. 

A mortality rate is the number of deaths in a given time period divided by the amount of time lived by the population exposed to the risk during the time period. The Crude Mortality Rate is for the entire population, including both sexes and all ages, while the Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) is only for children from 0 to 59 months old. In emergency situations, the most commonly used standard population denominator and time period is per 10,000 population per day.

A major limitation of CMR is that it does not take age into account. This can lead to a difference in mortality rates between two populations that is actually caused by different age distributions.

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