Calculating anthropometric z-scores in Stata

Anthropometric measures: height-for-age, weight-for-height, etc, are widely used in economics and sociology to assess the health condition of children relative to their peers. The procedure in Stata works as follows:

1. Download package dm0004_1, which contains commands “zanthro” and “zbmicat” for generating standardized anthropometric z-scores.

2. Download the relevant data files (the health measures for the reference populations) into your working directory.

3. Follow the instructions about the commands to produce z-scores. Note the following:

1) You can choose the reference population/standardizing scheme: US/UK/WHO. Each has different ranges of applicability and calculation algorithms. Make sure you fully understand them before choosing a particular one.

2) Add option “nocutoff” if you do not want your z-scores be truncated to [-5,5], i.e. to only keep observations within five standard deviations to the reference population.

3) Weight-for-length and weight-for-height usually restricts the range of weight and height that these statistics can be calculated. The z-scores are essentially put to missing if any of the two original measures falls out of the range.

Play with the package and have fun!

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