The study of the relationship between body weight and mortality rates has a prominent history in pediatric medicine. In a classic article from 1956 (reprinted in 2000), Gómez and Galvan reported factors associated with death for a group of malnourished children admitted to a hospital in Mexico City, Mexico. Those authors defined categories of malnutrition (first, second, and third degree), solely on the basis of expected weight for age, that were associated with mortality risk. Children with third-degree malnutrition, defined as having a body weight <60% of the median weight for age, had a markedly increased risk of death, independent of other factors. These categories, with some modification, were ultimately referred to as the Gómez classification of malnutrition. This classification, and others that followed, included the essential elements of an anthropometric indicator, a reference population for comparison, and cutoff points for various degrees of malnutrition. In this...

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