Trends in Nutritional Status of Adult Women in Sub-Saharan Africa (English)


Extensive data on infant, child and women's nutrition are available on STATcompiler; compare among countries and analyze trends over time.

Nutrition Resources
DHS surveys measure feeding practices, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, and in some cases, anemia prevalence. (Photo credit: © 2008 Kunle Ajayi, Courtesy of Photoshare)

DHS surveys collect data on nutrition indicators for both women and children.

Infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices play an important role in determining the health and development of children. DHS surveys assess the breastfeeding status of infants, with special attention to exclusive breastfeeding, which is recommended for the first six months of life, along with the complementary feeding of children 6-23 months with three key IYCF practices according to WHO guidelines:

  1. continued breastfeeding, or feeding of milk or milk products to non-breastfed children 
  2. feeding children solid foods the minimum number of times 
  3. feeding children solid foods from the minimum number of food groups.

Nutritional status is a reflection of health as well as the level of a society's development, and malnutrition is one of the most critical health and development problems facing women and children in developing regions of the world. DHS collects height and weight measurements, allowing for an analysis of nutritional status (stunting, wasting and underweight) for children as well as underweight and overweight for women.

Micronutrient deficiencies are a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among women and children. DHS collects data on micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A and anemia) and supplementation, and fortification of salt (iodized salt).

Anemia testing and other biomarkers for nutrition-related indicators are carried out in some surveys.

What are the DHS indicators related to nutrition?

  • Initial breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding status
  • Median duration and frequency of breastfeeding
  • Percentage of children breastfed six or more times
  • Percentage of children 6-23 months who are fed according to three infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices
  • Nutritional status by demographic and background characteristics
  • Anthropometric indicators for women
  • Anthropometric indicators of maternal nutritional status
  • Iodization of household salt
  • Micronutrient intake among children and mothers
  • Prevalence of anemia in children and women
  • Prevalence of anemia in children by anemia status of mother
  • Iron supplementation of children and women


Photo credit: © 2008 Kunle Ajayi, Courtesy of Photoshare. School students drink milk at Oworonsoki, Lagos, Nigeria. A milk-producing company partners with the government to give school children milk to complement their diet.