Reference centile curves for mid-upper arm circumference for assessment of under- and overnutrition in school-aged Indian children and adolescents Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: Malnutrition is common in developing countries and is not restricted to young children. It has been suggested that measuring mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) is an easy, accurate, and low-cost method of identifying malnutrition in the early stages. The aims of this study were to construct age- and sex-specific MUAC reference centiles, and to define and validate cutoffs for assessment of under- and overnutrition in Indian children 5 to 17 y of age. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional, multicentric, observational study conducted in seven schools in seven states from June 2018 to November 2019. The study included 6680 healthy 5- to17-y-old children. MUAC was measured using non-stretch tapes (UNICEF). Sex-specific MUAC percentiles were computed for age and height. Cutoffs for MUAC z-scores for thinness and overnutrition were defined and validated for healthy school children (n = 726) and children with cancer (n = 500). RESULTS: Reference centiles for MUAC for age (and height) for boys and girls are presented. Cutoffs defined for thinness and for obesity were -0.7 and +1.5 z-score, respectively (corresponding to 25th and 95th percentiles of the MUAC for age/height). For ease of use, rounded cutoffs for thinness were 16 and 18.5 cm from 5 to 9 and 10 to 14 y of age, respectively, in both sexes, and a cutoff of 22 cm in boys and 20 cm in girl from 15 to 17 y of age. For obesity, 20 and 25.5 cm from 5 to 9 and 10 to 14 y of age, respectively, in both girls and boys and a rounded cutoff of 29 cm in boys and 27 cm in girls from 15 to17 y are proposed. CONCLUSIONS: We presented MUAC percentiles and cutoffs for screening for thinness and overnutrition in Indian children from 5 to 17 y of age. These data may also be used in children with cancer and other chronic disorders with growth failure.


  • Khadilkar, Anuradha V
  • Khadilkar, Vaman V
  • Gondhalekar, Ketan M
  • Kajale, Neha A
  • Karkera, Priya H
  • Prasad, Maya
  • Trehan, Amita
  • Barr, Ronald Duncan
  • Ladas, Elena J

publication date

  • November 2021