Module 8 of the survey is Anthropometry and Hemoglobin. One of the measurements we take is the mid-upper arm circumference (aka the MUAC). The MUAC is generally regarded as an accurate assessment of nutritional status in adults and children. Also, it’s easy to do in the field.
There are two steps to taking a MUAC measurement. The first involves measuring the length of the upper arm to determine the mid-point of the upper arm. The second is to wrap a band around that point to measure the circumference.
The band tells us two things:
- The MUAC in centimetres, and
- What degree of malnutrition an individual has, if any. This is possible because the band is divided into three coloured segments that indicate whether an individual is well-nourished (green), suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) (yellow), or suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) (red). In children, these divisions are based on how many standard deviations a person’s MUAC is from the mean, which is 13.0 cm. In adults, the cutoffs are < 18.5 cm for moderate undernutrition, and < 16.5 cm for severe undernutrition.
Here are some pictures that demonstrate the process. Enjoy!