Assessment of a population at risk seeks to establish the degree and type of malnutrition present, and other resources for example water and sanitation so as to be able to relieve the situation. Special attention should be given to vulnerable groups such as children less than 5 years of age, pregnant and lactating women and the elderly. Furthermore there is a need to asses the environment and infrastructure in which the affected population resides in. This is important in establishing the underlying causes of the problems. Such assessments are vital in determining the origin and severity of the nutritional crises. The process consists of two phases both involve information gathering that use interviews, group discussions, observations and surveys.
It is worth noting that when carrying out a nutritional assessment, accurate techniques. One such technique is the use of anthropometrics. This is generally the purposive measurements of body muscle and fat. They are used to evaluate individuals, to measure growth in the young, and to assess weight loss or gain in the grown-up individuals. Weight and height are some of the most commonly used anthropometric measurements, together with skin fold measurements of several areas of the body (Bilukha O. (2008 p.5). This will include components such as:
1) body measurements: weight, height , left mid upper arm circumference
2) other indices: Age , bilateral edema
Indicators of malnutrition will include:
Height/age (chronic stunted growth)
Pitting bilateral edema (kwashiorkor)
Jahn et al (2008 p.3) points out that certain tables have been formulated to compare weight and height in order to provide a reference for an individual's health status. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company revised height and weight tables in 1942, so as to relate weight to disease and mortality.
Deitchler et al (2007 p.862), concur that to determine percentage body fat, skinfold measurements are vital measurements which can be obtained by using skin-fold calipers. Most often, triceps and subscapular skin-folds are recorded. Measurements are then compared to referenced data and to previous measurements of the individual, if available. Precise measuring takes practice, and comparison measurements are most dependable if done by the same technician each time. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, when performed by a trained, skilled tester, skinfold measurements of body fat are up to 98% accurate.
Here a questionnaire should be used to asses the number of meals eaten in a day and