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Nutritional Status of Schoolchildren in the Amazon Rainforest Interior of Multi-ethnic Suriname: the Influence of Age, Sex and Ethnicity



Objective: Adequate nutrition is critical for normal development during childhood. The nutritional status of schoolchildren living in the interior Suriname, South America, is of growing concern to the Medical Mission Primary Healthcare Suriname (MM) that provides healthcare in this region. This study aims to evaluate the nutritional status of these schoolchildren.                                           

Methods: Medical Mission Primary Healthcare Suriname 2015 interior schools’ screening data on height, weight and demographics of all schoolchildren aged 4‒14 years was used in this cross-sectional retrospective study. Malnutrition was defined as BMI <-2SD and stunting as height-for-age z-score <-2SD. Potential determinants of malnutrition and stunting: age, sex and ethnicity, were assessed using logistic regression analysis.

Results: Of 3.863 schoolchildren, 51% were young (4-8 years), 49% older (9-14 years), 50% male, and 82.6%, 15.3% and 2.1% were of Maroon, Amerindian, and mixed ethnicity, respectively. 5.4% of the schoolchildren were malnourished and 9.2% were stunted, including 1.6% who were severely stunted (<-3SD). In multivariable analysis, younger age (OR 1.8; 95%, CI 1.4-2.4) and Maroon children (OR=2.2; 95%, CI 1.3-3.8 compared to Amerindians) were more often malnourished, sex was not of influence. Boys (OR=1.7; 95%, CI 1.4-2.2), older children (OR 1.4; 95%, CI 1.1-1.8) and Amerindians (OR=2.4; 95%, CI 1.8-3.0 compared to Maroons) were more often stunted.

Conclusion: 5.4% of Suriname’s interior schoolchildren were malnourished and 9.2 % were stunted. Younger and Maroon children were more often malnourished, whereas older children, boys and Amerindians were more often stunted. Future studies are needed to determine causes of malnutrition and stunting and may support adaptation of MM schoolchildren nutrition programmes.


24 Jul, 2018
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e-Published: 14 Feb, 2019


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