According to the results of the Demographic and health Surveys of 1991 a 1996, there has been a marked improvement of the nutritional status of children under five years of age in Dominican Republic. In 1996, the prevalence of low height for age (stunting) was 11% (in 1991, it was 19%); that of low weight for age was 6% (10% in 1991), whereas wasting (low weight for height is low (1%) and does not represent a public health problem. Levels of stunting prevalence in rural areas (15%) are twice those in urban areas (7%). The regions IV and VI are those most affected by stunting (prevalence reaches 20% of preschool children), more than three times the level found in Distrito Nacional or in the Cibao Central (6%).
Among school age children, 19% suffer from stunting at national level. The provinces with the highest prevalence rates were Bahoruco in the South, Elías Piñas and Monte Plata.
Micronutrient deficiencies, mainly iodine, vitamin A and iron, are public health problems in Dominican Republic. It is estimated that 5% of school-age children at national level have goiter, although this prevalence reaches up to 13% in region I (San Cristóbal, Peravia, Monte Plata).
The prevalence of low serum retinol (<20 µg/dL) affects 23% of children aged 1-5 years, indicating that vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem among Dominicans.
The prevalence of anemia (defined as low hemoglobin) affects 31% of children aged 1 to 14 years, with higher levels in urban areas (32%) than in rural areas (25%).
Although Dominican Republic experienced an economic crisis during the 1980s, in the following decade the country made considerable advances to stabilize the economy. Unemployment rates diminished from 27% to 20% between 1980 and 1990 and poverty was hereby greatly reduced. Food insecurity affects the most vulnerable population groups, especially young children and those regions with the highest poverty indices.