The Weight-for-Height Chart: Is it accurate enough for field surveys?
The weight-for-height chart is a tool for nutritional assessment initially designed for use in clinics. The chart has been modified subsequently for field use and is being employed in a number of developing countries. To assess its accuracy in field settings, we tested two recommended variants of the chart during a famine-related nutritional survey in Mauritania. In comparison to conventional height and weight measurements, the weight-for-height chart used without a headboard and footboard does not produce acceptable levels of accuracy. When attached to a measuring board with fixed footboard and moveable headboard, however, results are more comparable to those obtained using conventional measurements. We feel that the weight-for-height chart attached to a height board may be useful in screening children for inclusion in supplementary feeding programs and following an individual child's progress or as an adjunct to more careful measuring procedures. However, any field surveys on which policy decisions and major expenditures are to be based should also include collection of exact weight and height data to provide greater flexibility in data analysis and in the development and evaluation of interventions.