ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Child Undernutrition in India

Assessment of Prevalence, Decline and Disparities

Analysing the latest National Family Health Survey-4 (2015–16) data, an assessment of the prevalence and decline in child undernutrition in India between 2005–06 and 2015–16 is undertaken. Despite a moderate decline in child undernutrition during this period, more than one-third of children under five years are stunted and underweight. A large, graded socio-economic disparity in child undernutrition continues. Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Mizoram emerge as better performers in reducing child undernutrition. While north-eastern states have done well in reducing underweight prevalence, Tripura, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh have performed better in reducing stunting. About 80% of high stunting prevalence (above 40%) districts belong to eight states, that also house 90% of high underweight prevalence districts.

Figures 1 to 5 can be accessed from the online version of this paper.

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer and Padmini Swaminathan for many insightful comments, and Kopal Khare and Prakar Gupta for assistance in data processing.

In the avoidance of endemic undernourishment and hunger, India has done worse than nearly every country in the world,” wrote Amartya Sen in 2001. Has the situation improved during the last decade? Specifically, has India made a decent progress in reducing child undernutrition during this period of robust economic growth? Have the socio-economic disparities in child undernutrition declined? Does the performance of states convey any specific, unique pattern of decline? Have the states with high undernutrition fared better during this period? Also, does the district-level data, available for the first time for 640 districts of India, reveal which districts remain most affected by child undernutrition and whether they are dispersed across or confined to a few states? We try to address these questions by analysing the unit-level data of the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) (2015–16).

Decline in Child Undernutrition?

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Updated On : 7th Dec, 2018
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