Objective: To assess the nutritional status of children based on anthropometric indicators and to develop a standard growth chart for schoolchildren in Saudi Arabia. Methods: A total of 4,154 male Saudi primary schoolchildren aged 6–11 years were randomly selected, using a three-stage stratified cluster sampling procedure that covered all regions of Saudi Arabia. Weight and height were measured and used to calculate the anthropometric indicators: weight for height, height for age and weight for age. These indicators were compared with the American National Center for Health Statistics Center for Disease Control (NCHS/CDC) reference population. Results: There was an indicator of past malnutrition of children whose height for age fell in the lower centile range of the NCHS/CDC reference population. Weight for height, an indicator of current nutritional status, was comparable with the reference population with only 5% below –2 standard deviations of the reference population. There was a statistically significant trend in the prevalence of indicators of past and current malnutrition with age. While the indicator of past malnutrition increased with age, the prevalence of the indicator of current malnutrition decreased with age. The level of obesity increased from 3.8% at age 6 years to 8.3% at 11 years, with the overall level of obesity of 6.6%. Conclusion: These findings showed high reliability of the interpretation of the anthropometric indicators, and that the Saudi male primary schoolchildren appear to enjoy a comparable nutritional status with their American counterparts. The generated growth charts are more applicable to the Saudis and probably to the Gulf communities as they are derived from local rather than European or American measurements.

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