Study Identifies Causes for Malnutrition Among Indian Children

Study Identifies Causes for Malnutrition Among Indian Children

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 25 Dec 2015 - 17:28


A new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, finds that Indian children are not up to the mark in height and weight. About 40% of children are stunted in height and 30% are underweight. The study identified five key risk factors liable for more than two-thirds of the problem.  

Among the 15 factors known for chronic under-nutrition among Indian kids, researchers pointed out top five risk factors which are basically markers of poor socioeconomic conditions as well as poor and insecure nutritional environments in children's households.

For the study the researchers used data of about 29,000 children aged 6-59 months from the 3rd India National Family Health Survey, conducted in 2005-06.

The five risk factors which predominantly indicated reasons for childhood stunted height and underweight are:

  • Short maternal stature (height)
  • A mother who lacks education
  • Intense poverty
  • Poor dietary diversity
  • Maternal underweight

Surprisingly high priority interventions to address malnutrition like breastfeeding, vitamin A supplementation, use of iodized salt, clean water and sanitation, and prevalence of infectious diseases, accounted for less than 15% of the cases.

Senior study author S V Subramanian, professor of population health and geography said, "There is an immediate need to not waste time and resources on short-term and ‘doable' interventions. While asking people to change behaviors and offering piecemeal solutions might provide some short-term relief, such strategies cannot be substituted for the urgent need to improve food and livelihood security."


Reference: "Risk factors for chronic undernutrition among children in India: Estimating relative importance, population attributable risk and fractions," Daniel J. Corsi, Iván Mejía-Guevara, S.V. Subramanian, Social Science & Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.11.014, online November 14, 2015; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health



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