Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stunting in children down, wasting remains an issue

Stunting in children down, wasting remains an issue

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A grandmother feeds her grandson in Kratie province in May. Hong Menea

Stunting in children down, wasting remains an issue

The prevalence of stunting in children decreased from 32 per cent in 2014 to 22 per cent in 2021–22, although the percentages of children identified as wasted or underweight had changed little, according to the just released 2021–22 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey.

“The status of Cambodia children under the age of 5 – according to the three anthropometric indices – is that 22 per cent are stunted, 10 per cent are wasted, and 16 per cent are underweight,” said the report.

When compared to the equivalent 2014 survey, whilst the prevalence of stunting had decreased ten percentage points, wasting still affected ten per cent of children. The percentage of children described as underweight had changed from 24 to 16. Just four per cent of children were overweight.

The report explained that anthropometry is commonly used to measure children’s nutritional status, and serves as growth indicators.

Chea Samnang, co-chair of the WASH and Nutrition Sub-Working Group at the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, said the problems of stunting and wasting were usually caused by poor access to clean water and sanitation.

He said 29 per cent of rural households practised open defecation, which including throwing the faeces of babies and infants. Many had no access to a clean water supply or sufficient washing facilities.

Hou Kroeun, deputy country director of the NGO Helen Keller International in Cambodia, said that he was pleased to discover the prevalence of stunting of children had decreased,

“The factors behind the decrease may be improved diets, good hygiene practices, access to health services or behavioural changes,” he said.

Kroeun added that good hygiene helps prevent contagious diseases, which can cause malnutrition. This in turn prevents children’s bodies from absorbing nutrients, increasing the chances of growth deficiencies.

While hailing the decrease in stunting, he was disappointed at a decline in exclusive breastfeeding of children up to six months.

According to the report exclusive breastfeeding among children age 0−5 months rose from just 11 per cent in 2000 to a peak of 74 per cent in 2010, but has subsequently declined to just 51 per cent.

Sok Am Ath, a 39-year-old mother of four from Tbong Khmum said that she had breastfed all four of her sons from birth to two years of age.

“Breastfeeding is great. It helps children’s brains and bodies develop to their full potential and builds their immune systems. It also reduces the rate of breast cancer, forms a close bond between mother and child and saves money that would be spent on formula,” she said.

Cambodia has committed to increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for babies and infants aged from 0-6 months to 85 per cent by 2030.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement