Malnutrition in India: examining mother-child dyads

Lisa K. Zottarelli, Texas Woman's University
Thankam S. Sunil, University of Texas at San Antonio

India has long had the challenge of poor nutrition outcomes in women and children but the challenges of overweight and obesity have become a growing concern. The complex issue of under-nutrition occurring along-side overweight has been termed the nutrition paradox and is seen as the “dual burden of malnutrition”. Within the household, the nutrition paradox is often defined in terms of an overweight mother with an underweight child. Within India, the most common multi-generational form of malnutrition is found in an underweight mother with underweight child (UU). Recently, dual burdened household malnutrition in the context of an overweight mother with an underweight child (OU) is appearing. The purpose of this study was to examine prevalence and determinants of malnourished mother-child dyads in both the traditional form of under-nutrition and the emerging form of paradoxical malnutrition. Data were from the National Family Health Survey 2005-2006 and analyses were limited to mothers with children between 13 and 59 months of age. The prevalence of malnourishment was examined in 32,909 mother-child dyads. The results indicate that 3 out of 4 mother-child dyads contain at least one form of malnourishment. Analyses conducted on 19,017 UU, OU, and normal weight pairs (NN) indicate that religion, household wealth, and antenatal care were important determinants in both UU and OU dyads. Additionally, mother and child vegetarianism, months breastfed, mother and father education were statistically significant predictors of UU. Birth order and household location predicted OU but not UU. The results suggest that certain factors are important in predicting the two forms of malnourished dyads, while other factors operate on only one of the two forms. Understanding where there are common determinants for both UU and OU is important for developing programs to address these two forms of malnourishment.

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Presented in Poster Session 1