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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Prevalence and determinants of stunting in under-five children in central Tanzania: remaining threats to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Innocent Antony Semali, Anna Tengia-Kessy, Elia John Mmbaga, Germana Leyna
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contribution

IAS participated in proposal and research tools development, data collection, analysis and manuscript writing. ATK developed research tools, data collection and participated in writing of the manuscript. EJM participated in proposal and research tools development, data analysis and manuscript writing. GL participated in proposal and research tools development, data analysis and manuscript writing. All the authors read and approved the final draft of the manuscript.



The Millennium Development Goal No 4 (MDG 4) requires countries to scale up interventions addressing malnutrition and other immediate determinants of burden of disease among children to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015, which is this year. Whereas globally some achievements have been registered, under-nourishment remains a significant problem in some developing countries such as Tanzania. This study set out to estimate the extent of stunting and its associated determinants to assess the progress made thus far towards achieving MDG 4 in Tanzania.


A random sample of 678 households with under-five children was selected from two randomly selected wards of Kongwa district in Dodoma region, Tanzania. The WHO anthropometric calculator, which computes Z-scores using a reference population, was used to process the anthropometric measurement data taken from all the participants. Children with height for age Z-score of less than 2 were categorised as stunted and coded as 1 and the rest were coded as 0. Proportions of stunting were compared using the chi-square test to determine the association between stunting and the independent variables. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was carried out to determine the Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) of the independent determinants of stunting. The cut-off for significant association was set at p = 0.05. All these analyses used the STATA 12 software.


About half (49.7 %) of the children were stunted. This stunting was associated with belonging to households where the head of family was young (<35 years) (AOR = 0.67, 95 % CI 0.47–0.96, p = 0.031), young age of the mothers (AOR = 1.54, 95 % CI 1.06–2.24, p = 0.023), and economic variables such as owning a cellular phone (AOR = 0.66, 96 % CI 0.46–0.94, p = 0.023).


Stunting was highly prevalent in Kongwa district despite general improvements in child nutritional status at the national level. Household characteristics and economic status were found to play a major role in child health. In this regard, disaggregated analyses are therefore important in identifying resilient areas in need of concerted efforts for the MDG 4 to be achieved nationwide.
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Reviewer acknowledgement

Reviewer acknowledgement 2014