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MUAC is the circumference of the left upper arm, measured at the mid-point between the tip of the shoulder and the tip of the elbow (olecranon process and the acromium). In children, MUAC is useful for the assessment of nutritional status. It is good at predicting mortality and in some studies, MUAC alone or MUAC for age, predicted death in children better than any other anthropometric indicator. This advantage of MUAC was greatest when the period of follow-up was short.

The MUAC measurement requires little equipment and is easy to perform even on the most debilitated individuals. Although it is important to give workers training in how to take the measurement in order to reduce inter- and intra- observer error, the technique can be readily taught to minimally trained health workers. It is thus potentially suited to screening admissions to feeding centres during emergencies.