Skip to main content

Indian policy-makers "neglect" poverty reduction, social factors in fight against chronic child undernutrition

By Rajiv Shah
A new study on risk factors for chronic undernutrition among children says that India’s policy makers have disproportionately focused on “what can be termed ‘nutrition-specific’ interventions targeted at addressing the immediate causes of undernutrition”, and considerably less emphasis on “social and structural factors, including poverty reduction, improvements to socioeconomic status and maternal education.”
Carried out by Daniel J Corsi, Iván Mejía-Guevara, and SV Subramanian, and published in a top American journal, “Social Science & Medicine”, the study says, the issue is particularly important because, despite reduction in childhood stunting and underweight in India, the country accounts for “38% of the global burden of stunting (nearly 62 million children) underscoring the importance of reducing undernutrition in India.”
“The prevalence of childhood stunting and underweight in India remains persistently high”, the study says. “In 1992–93, amongst children aged 0–47 months, 57% and 49%, were stunted and underweight, respectively, declining to 47% and 42% in 2005–2006, and to 39% and 29% in 2013–14, the most recent year for which national data are available.”
It adds, “There appears to be momentum to make direct investments in programmes and interventions aimed at nutrition (e.g., breastfeeding, complementary feeding, micronutrient nutrition, and therapeutic and supplementary feeding), health (e.g., prevention and management of infectious diseases) and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programmes”, calls these as “considered in isolation.”
Based on a survey of 109,041 households across India, and 124,385 women, who agreed to participate in the survey, the methodology used in the study includes using the wealth index, a variable already available in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). “The index used was derived from a weighted sum of household assets that included televisions, telephones, motorcycles/scooters, cars, mattresses, other possessions and household characteristics (e.g. windows), and materials used for wall/floor construction”, the study says.
Results of the survey suggest that “the prevalence of stunting and underweight in the study sample were 51.1% and 44.9%, respectively”, but the “levels of risk factors were common in the sample including low household wealth (28.6%), no formal education (50.0%), short maternal stature (<145 cm, 12.1%), and poor dietary diversity (31.4%).”
The survey results show that the “five most important predictors of stunting were short maternal stature, no education, lowest wealth quintile, poor dietary diversity, and maternal underweight/low BMI”; and “the five risk factors with the weakest association with stunting… were no access to safe water, unsafe disposal of stools, infectious disease prior to survey, no vitamin A supplementation and delayed initiation of breast feeding.”
It adds, “For underweight, the results were largely similar with some differences in the relative ordering of risk factors.”
The authors conclude, “Our findings indicated substantially larger effects for maternal height, BMI, household wealth, education, and children's dietary diversity and this underscores the importance of improving the overall environmental and socioeconomic conditions at the child, maternal and household levels.”

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”