Prevalence of wasting among children is rising, shows NFHS-4 data

Prevalence of wasting among children is rising, shows NFHS-4 data


When it comes to child under-nutrition, the proportion of stunted and underweight children below 5 years has reduced in India during the last ten years. However, a rising trend has been observed in the prevalence of wasting among children below 5 years between the last two rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

The recently released data from NFHS-4 indicates that the proportion of under 5 year children who are stunted (i.e. too short for age) has fallen from 48.0 percent in 2005-06 to 38.4 percent in 2015-16. Similarly, the proportion of under 5 year children who are underweight (i.e. too thin for age) has gone down from 42.5 percent to 35.7 percent between 2005-06 and 2015-16. However, the proportion of children who exhibit wasting (i.e. too thin for height) has increased from 19.8 percent to 21.0 percent between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4.  

It needs to be mentioned that children from Scheduled Tribes (STs) background face a disproportionately higher level of under-nutrition vis-à-vis the overall child population in the under 5 year age-group. For example, the proportion of underweight children below 5 years among the STs (i.e. 45 percent) has been higher as compared to the same among overall population (i.e. 35.7 percent) during 2015-16. Similarly, the proportion of stunted children below 5 years among the STs (i.e. 44 percent) has been higher as compared to the same among overall population (i.e. 38.4 percent) during 2015-16.

There exists a great deal of variation across the states in terms of prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight among children below 5 years of age in 2005-06 as well as 2015-16.  

Stunting among children across the states

All the 29 states have witnessed a decline in the proportion of stunting among children below 5 years between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4.



During 2015-16, the prevalence of stunting among children below 5 years has been the highest in Bihar (48.3 percent), followed by Uttar Pradesh (46.3 percent), Jharkhand (45.3 percent), Meghalaya (43.8 percent), and Madhya Pradesh (42.0 percent). The proportion of stunted children has been the lowest in Kerala (19.7 percent), followed by Goa (20.1 percent), Tripura (24.3 percent), Punjab (25.7 percent), and Himachal Pradesh (26.3 percent) during the same year. Please check the interactive chart-1.  

The NFHS-4 data indicates that the prevalence of stunting has been higher in the rural areas (41.2 percent) as compared to the urban areas (31.0 percent).

According to the UNICEF (please click here to access), stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections. Stunting generally happens before two years of age, and the effects are largely irreversible. These include delayed motor development, impaired cognitive function and poor school performance.

Wasting among children across the states

Among the 29 states of India, only 12 states have shown a decline in the proportion of wasting among children below 5 years between 2005-06 and 2015-16.



During 2015-16, the prevalence of wasting among children below 5 years has been the highest in Jharkhand (29.0 percent), followed by Gujarat (26.4 percent), Karnataka (26.1 percent), Madhya Pradesh (25.8 percent), and Maharashtra (25.6 percent). The proportion of wasted children has been the lowest in Mizoram (6.1 percent), followed by Manipur (6.8 percent), Nagaland (11.2 percent), Jammu and Kashmir (12.1 percent), and Himachal Pradesh (13.7 percent). Please consult the interactive chart-2.  

The NFHS-4 data indicates that the prevalence of wasting has been higher in the rural areas (21.5 percent) as compared to the urban areas (20.0 percent).

According to the UNICEF (please click here to access), wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five years of age. Wasting occurs due to recent food deprivation or serious illness.

Underweight proportion among children across the states

Except NCT of Delhi, the rest 28 states have displayed a fall in the prevalence of underweight among children below 5 years between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4.



During 2015-16, the proportion of underweight children below 5 years has been the highest in Jharkhand (47.8 percent), followed by Bihar (43.9 percent), Madhya Pradesh (42.8 percent), Uttar Pradesh (39.5 percent), and Gujarat (39.3 percent). The proportion of underweight children below 5 year age has been the lowest in Mizoram (11.9 percent), followed by Manipur (13.8 percent), Sikkim (14.2 percent), Kerala (16.1 percent), and Jammu and Kashmir (16.6 percent). Please see the interactive chart-3.  

The NFHS-4 data indicates that the proportion of underweight children has been higher in the rural areas (38.3 percent) as compared to the urban areas (29.1 percent).


References

National Family Health Survey-4, http://rchiips.org/nfhs/factsheet_NFHS-4.shtml

National Family Health Survey-4 India Fact Sheet (2015-16), please click here to read more
   
National Family Health Survey-4 indicates a reduction in malnourished children in the country: Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Women and Child Development, 17 March, 2017, please click here to access
 
Health Ministry releases results from 1st phase of NFHS-4 survey, Press Information Bureau/ Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 19 January, 2016, please click here to access 

One-third Of West Bengal Kids Stunted & Underweight, Says NFHS-4, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, 21 January, 2016, please click here to access
 
IFPRI Report Shows Under-nutrition Has Fallen, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, 21 September, 2015, please click here to access

Govt. shows laxity in battle against malnutrition, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, 8 June, 2015, please click here to access 

Doubts Over Maharashtra's Nutritional Progress?, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, 26 January, 2015, please click here to access

Child Malnutrition Declining, Though Not Fast Enough, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change, 21 November, 2014, please click here to access  

Trends of undernutrition in children under 5 years of age, Inclusive Media for Change, May, 2015, please click here to access

Note on under-nutrition among children in developing countries, UNICEF, please click here to access 

Delhi And Other Indian Cities Have Child Malnutrition Levels Akin To Sub-Saharan Africa -Rukmini S, HuffingtonPost.in, 14 April, 2017, please click here to access 
 
 
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change/ Shambhu Ghatak




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