Chronic malnutrition more than twice as high among Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic children in the United States
New study in the Pan American Journal of Public Health also shows that girls in general have higher rates of micronutrient deficiencies than boys, especially iodine deficiency
Washington, D.C., 19 December 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — Chronic malnutrition was found to be more than twice as high among Hispanic children than non-Hispanic white children in the United States in a study published in the latest issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health (PAJPH).
The study, “Obesity and malnutrition among Hispanic children in the United States: double burden on health inequities,” examined inequities in nutritional status between Hispanic and non-Hispanic children, using a representative sample of more than 14,000 children living in the United States. The findings show that “stunting,” which is measured as low height for age and indicates chronic malnutrition, is higher among Hispanic than among non-Hispanic white children (6.1% vs. 2.6%). The study also finds higher rates of obesity and overweight among Hispanic than non-Hispanic white children (38.2% vs. 29.8%) and more stunting among Hispanic children in the healthy weight category (6.8%) than among Hispanic children who are overweight or obese (4.6%).
In addition, the study finds higher rates of micronutrient deficiencies—vitamin D, iron, folate and iodine—among Hispanic children than among non-Hispanic whites and higher rates among girls than boys of all ethnicities. Hispanic children were more likely than non-Hispanic white children to have both vitamin D deficiency (5.7% vs.1%) and iron deficiency (7.5% vs. 5%). Girls of all ethnicities had higher rates than boys of both vitamin D deficiency (7.2% vs. 4.2%) and iron deficiency (8.9% vs. 5.3%).
The study finds iodine deficiency in 27.4% of girls and 17.3% of boys (ages 6 to 19, all ethnicities). Non-Hispanic white girls had the highest rate of iodine deficiency (27.5%), while non-Hispanic white boys had the lowest rate (14.9%). Iodine deficiency is associated with stunted growth as well as thyroid and cognitive problems.
The most recent issue of the PAJPH also features a study originally published in the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) American Journal of Public Health on Eliminating Tuberculosis One Neighborhood at a Time. The investigation concludes that targeting neighbourhoods with high incidence of TB and apply a preventive treatment may help to accelerate the elimination of the disease in the United States.
The article was published in PAJPH as part of a collaboration between PAHO and APHA in which PAHO translates articles published in the AJPH that are of relevance for Spanish-speaking populations in the Americas.
Other articles in this issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health include:
- Influence of context in social participation of people with disabilities in Brazil
- Effective interventions in the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs
- A systematic review of alcohol use and sexual risk-taking in Latin America
- Viral hepatitis in Latin America and the Caribbean: a public health challenge
ThePan American Journal of Public Health (PAJPH) is an open-access, peer-reviewed monthly journal of PAHO/WHO. Its mission is to disseminate scientific public health information to strengthen national and local health systems and improve the health of the peoples of the Americas.