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Greater Reduction in Stunting Than Underweight and Wasting in Indian Under-Five Children: A Comparison of Growth Indicators from 4 National Family Health Surveys

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Abstract

Objective

To assess change in nutritional status in Indian under-five children from four rounds of national surveys (round 1 to 4).

Methods

National Family Health Survey data from 4 rounds (1992–2016) were analyzed. Height and weight for age (HAZ, WAZ), and weight for height (WHZ) z scores were calculated. Children under −2 z score were classified as malnourished by HAZ, WAZ and WHZ.

Results

A greater reduction in stunting (from 54 to 38%, p < 0.05) than in underweight (from 44 to 34%, p < 0.05) and wasting (from 19 to 20%, p > 0.1) status over the period of 4 NFHS rounds was observed from 1992 to 2016. In line with this, combination of improved height for age (−2.1 ± 1.8 to −1.5 ± 1.7) but relatively less improved weight for age (−1.8 ± 1.4 to −1.5 ± 1.2), the change in wasting status was either nil or meagre (−0.8 ± 1.4 to −0.9 ± 1.4), (p < 0.05 for all). The percentage of children malnourished by all 3 indicators together reduced from 9 to 6% (p < 0.05). At the 4th NFHS round, higher percentage of boys (8%) than girls (6%) and rural (7%) than urban (5%) children were malnourished by all 3 indicators (p < 0.05).

Conclusion

Greater reduction in stunting than underweight and wasting was observed over the period of 4 rounds. There is a need for more focused efforts to combat malnutrition in rural children and boys.

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Fig. 1

Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available at https://www.dhsprogram.com/Countries/Country-Main.cfm?ctry_id=57

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program for NFHS 4 data.

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AK and VK have conceptualized the study; KG and VE carried out data analysis and interpretation and all the authors were involved in manuscript writing; All authors approve of the manuscript. AK will act as the guarantor for this paper.

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Correspondence to Khadilkar Anuradha.

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Anuradha, K., Ketan, G., Vaman, K. et al. Greater Reduction in Stunting Than Underweight and Wasting in Indian Under-Five Children: A Comparison of Growth Indicators from 4 National Family Health Surveys. Indian J Pediatr 90, 982–987 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12098-022-04143-x

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