Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lori Mae Hunter

Third Advisor

Dr. David Sherwood


This study examines the correlation between household characteristics—namely household head education, sex of household head, assets, livestock ownership, and field usage—and children's nutritional status, quantified by growth stunting, underweight status, and wasting, in rural South Africa. Children aged 1-5 years old in the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance Site of South Africa were sampled in 2010 and 2011. The proportion of children who were growth stunted was 16% in 2010 and 26% in 2011. In 2010 and 2011, 3% and 6% of the children sampled were underweight, respectively. The percent of children considered to have wasting syndrome was 0.7% in 2010 and 2% in 2011. These data provide evidence supporting previous studies showing that childhood malnutrition is a continuing problem in rural South Africa. Further, childhood undernutrition was correlated with all five household characteristics, but most significantly with household head education, field usage, and assets. Results from this study suggest that investing in education may be an effective tool for reducing childhood undernutrition.