E.g., 04/28/2017
E.g., 04/28/2017

The Nutritional Health of Young Refugee Children Resettling in Washington State

Reports
November 2016

The Nutritional Health of Young Refugee Children Resettling in Washington State

Refugee children arrive in the United States with diverse health and nutritional needs. Whether the needs of these children are met—or not—can have long-term consequences for their development and well-being.

In 2012, Washington State became home to 2,164 newly arrived refugees, the tenth-largest number resettled in a state that year. This report describes the prevalence of both undernutrition and overnutrition among children (from birth to age 10) resettled in Washington State between July 2012 and June 2014, with most originating in Iraq, Somalia, or Burma. The researchers use results of a medical screening examination conducted before the children came to the United States.

The report finds that nearly half of the children in the sample suffered from malnutrition (ranging from wasting and stunting to overweight and obesity). Compared to low-income children of the same age in Washington State, the researchers find that a greater proportion of the refugee children suffered from wasting or stunting, while a smaller share were overweight or obese at the time of resettlement.

The report emphasizes the importance of addressing the entire spectrum of malnutrition when designing nutrition programs for refugee children both before and after their resettlement.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Background: Poor Nutritional Status and Its Consequences

A. Undernutrition

B. Overnutrition

III. Assessing the Nutritional Status of Refugee Children

IV. Data and Methods

V. Prevalence of Malnutrition among Young Refugee Children in Washington State

A. Children under Age 5

B. Children Ages 5 to 10

IV. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations

A. Preresettlement Recommendations

B. Postresettlement Recommendations

C. Future Research Directions

Appendix. Anthropometric Definitions of Nutritional Status