Doctors working in famine relief commonly use the weight:height ratio and the circumference of the mid-upper arm to assess the nutritional state of children under 5. Threshold values indicating moderate and severe malnutrition are usually taken as 80% and 70%, respectively, of the expected weight:height ratio and arm circumferences of 13.5 cm and 12.5 cm, respectively. A study of 1260 children aged 1-5 showed that the thresholds of these two variables yielded significantly different proportions of children with malnutrition, the proportion being much larger when arm circumference was used as the criterion. Adjusting the thresholds would result in closer correspondence between the two variables.
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