The most basic of anthropometric measurements are weight and height. Anthropometric measurements are used to determine a human being’s nutritional and general health status. Measuring weight and height of infants and children is an international health practice that provides a readily accessible, inexpensive, objective method to ascertain the health history and health status of a child.

A weight measurement along with a height measurement is a powerful tool; with them a clinician has a direct record of the prior health status and dietary intake of a child and his/her future risk status for poor health. Weight and height measurements are essential to Children’s HealthWatch in order to:

  • Identify malnourished infants and children.
  • Identify infants and children at-risk for malnutrition.
  • Link at-risk children to medical and social services.
  • Evaluate the overall health status of children in the Children’s HealthWatch sample compared to the reference population.

Growth and development are affected by several factors that interact with one another to determine an individual’s growth pattern, including:

ENVIRONMENT factors, such as quality and quantity if dietary intake, and exposure to disease and illness influence growth and development.

BEHAVIORAL factors, such as activity and exercise patterns, or heavy smoking or drug use pregnancy.

GENETIC factors (inherited family characteristics).

HORMONAL factors can also affect growth during pregnancy.

The most important environmental factors causing growth differences in children are quality of their diet, exposure to illness, and the combination of the two. Dietary adequacy and frequency of illness are related to income and education levels. For example, poorer children may fall behind children of higher socioeconomic status in growth. And the risk of having a low birth weight baby is higher for women with little or no education. Quality of housing, sanitation, diet, and health care, as well as lifestyles that promote health, vary widely among socioeconomic groups.