Objective: To determine whether a possession score or a poverty index best predicts undernutrition and anaemia in women of reproductive age (15–49 years; WRA) and children aged 6–59 months living in Côte d'Ivoire.
Design: Anthropometric measurements were converted to Z-scores to assess stunting, wasting and underweight in children, and converted to BMI in WRA. A venous blood sample was drawn, and Hb concentration and Plasmodium spp. infection were determined. A possession score was generated with categories of zero to four possessions. A five-point (quintile) poverty index using household assets was created using principal component analysis. These socio-economic measures were compared for their ability to predict anaemia and malnutrition.
Setting: Data were from a nationally representative survey conducted in Côte d'Ivoire in 2007.
Subjects: A sample of 768 WRA and 717 children aged 6–59 months was analysed.
Results: Overall, 74·9 % of children and 50·2 % of WRA were anaemic; 39·5 % of the children were stunted, 28·1 % underweight and 12·8 % wasted, while 7·4 % of WRA had BMI < 18·5 kg/m2. In general, there were more stunted and underweight children and thin WRA in rural areas. The poverty index showed a stronger relationship with nutritional status than the possession score; mean Hb difference between the poorest and wealthiest quintiles in children and WRA was 8·2 g/l and 6·5 g/l, respectively (13·9 % and 19·8 % difference in anaemia, respectively; P < 0·001), and Z-scores and BMI were significantly better in the wealthiest quintile (P < 0·001).
Conclusions: The poverty index was generally a better predictor of undernutrition in WRA and pre-school children than the possession score.