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Inadequate feeding of infant and young children in India: lack of nutritional information or food affordability?
Public Health Nutrition (2012)
  • Nisha Malhotra, University of British Columbia

Why does child malnutrition persist in India? Amongst the fastest growing economies over the last two decades, India has struggled to make progress in the health of its children. In this article the author argues that the reason malnutrition persists is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of nutritional knowledge amongst families plays a very important role.

Scientific Abstract Objective: Despite a rapidly growing economy and rising income levels in India, improvements in child malnutrition have lagged. Data from the most recent National Family Health Survey reveal that the infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices recommended by the WHO and the Indian Government, including the timely introduction of solid food, are not being followed by a majority of mothers in India. It is puzzling that even among rich households children are not being fed adequately. The present study analyses the socio-economic factors that contribute to this phenomenon, including the role of nutritional information.

Results: Wealth was shown to have only a small effect on feeding practices. For children aged 6–8 months, the mother's wealth status was not found to be a significant determinant of sound feeding practices. Strikingly, nutritional advice on infant feeding practices provided by health professionals (including anganwadi workers) was strongly correlated with improved practices across all age groups. Exposure to the media was also found to be a significant determinant.

Conclusions: Providing appropriate information may be a crucial determinant of sound feeding practices. Efforts to eradicate malnutrition should include the broader goals of improving knowledge related to childhood nutrition and IYCF practices.

  • Child Malnutrition; India; Anganwadi; Nutrition; education; India; Infant and young child feeding; WHO feeding indicators; Complementary food; Weaning
Publication Date
Citation Information
Nisha Malhotra. "Inadequate feeding of infant and young children in India: lack of nutritional information or food affordability?" Public Health Nutrition (2012)
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