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Metadata Glossary

Indicator NamePrevalence of stunting, height for age (% of children under 5)
Long definitionPrevalence of stunting is the percentage of children under age 5 whose height for age is more than two standard deviations below the median for the international reference population ages 0-59 months. For children up to two years old height is measured by recumbent length. For older children height is measured by stature while standing. The data are based on the WHO's 2006 Child Growth Standards.
SourceUNICEF, WHO, World Bank: Joint child Malnutrition Estimates (JME). Aggregation is based on UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank harmonized dataset (adjusted, comparable data) and methodology.
TopicHealth: Nutrition
Unit of measure%
Aggregation methodSee SH.STA.STNT.ME.ZS for aggregation
Limitations and exceptionsSurvey estimates come with levels of uncertainty due to both sampling error and non-sampling error (e.g., measurement technical error, recording error etc.,). None of the two sources of errors have been fully taken into account for deriving estimates neither at country nor at regional or worldwide levels.
General commentsUndernourished children have lower resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments such as diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. Frequent illness saps the nutritional status of those who survive, locking them into a vicious cycle of recurring sickness and faltering growth (UNICEF). Estimates are from national survey data. Being even mildly underweight increases the risk of death and inhibits cognitive development in children. And it perpetuates the problem across generations, as malnourished women are more likely to have low-birth-weight babies. Stunting, or being below median height for age, is often used as a proxy for multifaceted deprivation and as an indicator of long-term changes in malnutrition.
Other web linksRecommendations for data collection, analysis and reporting on anthropometric indicators in children under 5 years old. Geneva: World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2019. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. WHO Anthro Survey Analyzer -
License URL
License TypeCC BY-4.0