Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 7 counties in 3 provinces: Guangxi, Guizhou and Jiangxi, all located in mid-western China, with most of the areas being rural. 2165 children under 5 years of age were enrolled. A questionnaire was used to elicit required information and anthropometric measurements were made.
Results The overall prevalence for underweight was 21.0% in the study population, which was much higher than the prevalence reported by the urban and eastern areas. In multivariate analysis, various factors identified for underweight of children were: number of children per family (OR =1.37, 95% CI = 1.04-1.80), the primary health care accessibility indicators, lack of immunization (OR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.03-1.91), lack of health information from village doctor (OR = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.44-0.87), household wealth status ( OR = 3.42, 95% CI = 1.04-12.28), and mother’s education level (OR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.15-2.27).
Conclusion Effective strategies to improve primary health care accessibility in rural areas are imperative to advancing overall child health conditions in China. Promotion of mother’s health education is another approach that should be incorporated while designing control strategies to reduce child (< 5 years) morbidity and mortality due to malnutrition.