Stunting as a Synonym of Social Disadvantage and Poor Parental Education

Socially, economically, politically and emotionally (SEPE) disadvantaged children are shorter than children from affluent background. In view of previous work on the lack of association between nutrition and child growth, we performed a study in urban schoolchildren. We measured 723 children (5.83 to 13.83 years); Kupang, Indonesia; three schools with different social background. We investigated anthropometric data, clinical signs of malnutrition, physical fitness, parental education, and household equipment. Subjective self-confidence was assessed by the MacArthur test. The prevalence of stunting was between 8.5% and 46.8%. Clinical signs of under- or malnutrition were absent even in the most underprivileged children. There was no delay in tooth eruption. Underprivileged children are physically fitter than the wealthy. The correlation between height and state of nutrition (BMI_SDS, skinfold_SDS, MUAC_SDS) ranged between r = 0.69 (p < 0.01) and r = 0.43 (p < 0.01) in private school children, and between r = 0.07 (ns) and r = 0.32 (p < 0.01) in the underprivileged children. Maternal education interacted with height in affluent (r = 0.20, p < 0.01) and in underprivileged children (r = 0.20, p < 0.01). The shortness of SEPE disadvantaged children was not associated with anthropometric and clinical signs of malnutrition, nor with delay in physical development. Stunting is a complex phenomenon and may be considered a synonym of social disadvantage and poor parental education.


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