Since the publication of the new multi-country reference standard by WHO it is likely that future progress in the fight against undernutrition will be tracked by using this new standard. The use of the new reference standard will result in clear changes in the prevalence and composition of undernutrition. This paper argues that this opportunity should be used to use stunting or a Composite Index of Anthropometric Failure instead of underweight as the indicator to measure progress in the fight against hunger. All weight based anthropometric measures, such as underweight and wasting, suffer from the fact that due to changes in the nutritional composition of diets in developing countries there is going to be a secular reduction in those measures that does not coincide with real improvements in the health of the affected children. This bias could lead to wrong conclusions concerning the fulfillment of the undernutrition aspect of MDG I.
Nutrition transition child undernutrition Millennium Development Goals composition of undernutrition