the nutritional status according to anthropometric data was assessed in 756 schoolchildren from 5 low-income state schools and in one private school in the same part of rio de janeiro, brazil. the prevalence of stunting and wasting (cut-off point: <90% ht/age and <80% wt/ht) ranged in the public schools from 6.2 to 15.2% and 3.3 to 24.0%, respectively, whereas the figures for the private school were 2.3 and 3.5%, respectively. much more obesity was found in the private school (18.0%) than in the state schools (0.8 - 6.2%). nutritional problems seem to develop more severely in accordance with the increasing age of the children. therefore it appears advisable to assess schoolchildren within the context of a nutritional surveillance system.