Natalia Nino's profile

Natalia Nino


2012 MSc Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

2006 MA in Anthropology, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

2005 BA in Anthropology, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Awards and Funding

College of Humanities and Social Science Scholarship

Program: PhD Science in Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh

September 2012- September 2015

School of Social and Political Science Graduate School Scholarship

Program: PhD Science in Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh

September 2012- September 2015 

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship

Program: PhD  Science in Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh

September 2012- September 2015

Colciencias Scholarship

Program: PhD  Science in Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh

September 2012- September 2015

Colfuturo Scholarship

Program: Master in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh

September 2011-Augost 2012

Nuffic Scholarship

Scholarship to take the short course Children Health and Wellbeing: A Cultural Perspective at the University of Amsterdam

January 2009

Research Interests

Standards Quantification Measurement WHO Childhood Body politics Malnutrition Anthropometry

Research Activities

Research Experience

2009-2011 Researcher. Nutrition Unit, Research Area, National Institute for Health, Colombia 

2005 - 2011 Researcher. Medical Anthropology Research Group. Department of Anthropology, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Natalia Nino has not added any teaching activity to this section yet.

PhD Title

Growing Right: WHO Child Growth Standards Development and Adoption

PhD Supervisors

Gill Haddow

Emma Frow

Robin Williams

PhD Overview

Child growth reference charts have been used since the 1960´s in order to assess children´s growth, implement nutritional surveillance and compare how different groups of population are growing. In 2006 an important breaking point occurred in the history of anthropometry and nutritional assessment, when the WHO released new growth charts for international comparison after promoting since 1975 the use of the charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). According to the WHO these charts indicate how children should grow for the best health outcome in contrast to the NCHS/CDC charts that indicated how the average child grows. This shift from a descriptive to a prescriptive ­–and rather normative– approach allowed the WHO to state that all children in the world have the potential to grow and develop to within the same range of height and weight, thus, implying that all children should develop in specific standardised ways regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and type of feeding.

By 2010, approximately 140 countries had adopted the WHO charts for individual growth monitoring as well as the means of producing statistics for under- and over-nutrition, which would be used to assess and monitor a population’s health status. This shift between charts has direct implications for how children’s growth is measured and how malnutrition is assessed. The adoption of the WHO new charts has immediate consequences for the calculation of underweight, overweight, stunting, and wasting prevalence. In this sense, the adoption of the new charts considerably changes the estimates to predict nutrition-related emergencies, the assessment of appropriate weaning practices, and the screening and monitoring of populations at risk or with growth deficiencies or excesses.

In my doctoral research, I use Colombia as a case study to unpack how a standard developed by an international organisation is negotiated, adopted and constantly transformed once it is scaled down to a specific country. Using the theoretical approach to standards, measurement and classification of authors such as Star, Bowker, Timmermans, Berg, Porter and Epstein, in this dissertation I show how far from being ‘stable’ and ‘value-free’ (as the World Bank would describe them), growth charts are political tools of measurement charged with specific values regarding children’s bodies. 

Given that Colombia had previously used the NCHS charts, this research explores how the WHO charts have been adopted within individual growth monitoring programmes in Colombia.  I also describe how the change in charts has destabilised the production of under and over-nutrition indicators by national bodies, such as the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Health. My data collection includes 64 interviews with policy makers, experts and civil servants who actively participated in the process of adopting and adapting the standards in Colombia at the national level. It also includes observation in six individual growth monitoring programmes for children in the Caribbean region of the country, where I conducted interviews with nurses and doctors and observed 137 anthropometric assessments of children under five years old. By exploring how the WHO charts are interpreted and used in practice, this research aims to contribute to the study of standards and standardisation as a field of study in its own right. 

Blume, S., Donoso C., Niño N. and Romo, K. (2011) Deaf Communities and the Cochlear Implant in Latin America: A Preliminary Inquiry. Ethnographica Journal on Culture and Disability 1(1):1-11

Peñaranda, A., Suárez, R., Niño, N., Aparicio, L., Garcia, JM and Baron, C. (2011) Parents narratives on cochear implantation: reconstructing the experience of having a child with cochlear implant. Cochlear Implant International 12(3):147-56.

Suárez, R., Niño, N., Vesga, JF. and Selpulveda, R. (2008) Contextos socioculturales de riesgo para contraer VIH-SIDA en Cartagena. Antípoda Revista en Antropología y Arqueología  No 6  Pp: 313-320.

Suárez, R,. Niño, N., Sepúlveda, R. and Vesga,JF (2008) HIV Risk Perception and Condon Use in the Sociocultural Context of Cartagena Colombia. Anthropology & Health Journal No 1 Pp: 16-21

 Suárez, R., Hidalgo, M., Niño, N., Vesga, JF., Castañeda, E., Sánchez, R., Orjuela, E. and Valbuena, G (2008). Las rickettsias como agentes etiológicos de entidades febriles no diagnosticadas Colombia. Ediciones Uniandes.