Malnutrition FAQs

In this section we deal with common questions about malnutrition.

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How do you define severe acute malnutrition?

Severe acute malnutrition is defined as:

  • Severe wasting, measured by weight-for-height <70% or <-3SD, or MUAC <110mm for children 6 – 59 months, or clinical signs of severe wasting
  • And/or oedema of both feet

What should be done with children who are mild or moderately wasted?

Children with mild or moderate wasting need building up. Since they are not severely wasted or oedematous, then the body’s metabolism will be reasonably intact and they should not need stabilising with F75. These children can be given frequent feeds of F100, RUTF, or any high energy, high protein diet that will provide the building blocks and energy for new tissue synthesis.

In the community, children identified with moderate wasting can join a supplementary feeding programme (SFP) if one is available.

Can weight-for-age be used to diagnose malnutrition?

Low weight-for-age indicates a nutrition problem, but does not specifically identify acute malnutrition. A low weight may be due to stunting, and not wasting. So it is important to consider a child’s weight-for-height or thinness, rather than simply weight-for-age. Feeding can correct wasting but cannot easily correct stunting.