Nutritional status of under-five children in Libya: a national population-based survey

Original article


El Taguri A, Rolland-Cachera M-F, Mahmud S M, Elmrzougi N, Abdel Monem A, Betilmal I, Lenoir G.

El Taguri Adel, e-mail:

Libyan J Med AOP:071006


Aim: To describe the nutritional status of children under-five years of age in Libya.
Population and methods: A secondary analysis of data of 5348 children taken from a national representative, two-stage, cluster-sample survey that was performed in 1995. Results: Prevalence rates of underweight, wasting, stunting, and overweight were determined using standard definitions in reference to newly established WHO growth charts. The study revealed that 4.3% of children were underweight, 3.7% wasted, 20.7% stunted, and 16.2% overweight. Seventy percent of children had normal weight. Undernutrition was more likely to be found in males, in rural areas, and in underprivileged groups. Overweight was more likely found in urban, privileged groups. Wasting was more common in arid regions; stunting was more common in mountainous regions of Al-Akhdar, Al-Gharbi, and in Sirt. Al-Akhdar had the highest prevalence of overweight.
Conclusion: The country had a low prevalence of underweight and wasting, moderate prevalence of stunting, and high prevalence of overweight. The country is in the early stages of transition with evidence of dual-burden in some regions. Similar surveys are needed to verify secular trends of these nutritional problems, particularly overweight.

Keywords: Libya, preschool children, nutritional status, underweight, wasting, stunting, overweight