Distribution of Malnutrition in India; Effects of Socio-Economic Characteristics and Economic Development on Being Underweight and Overweight

Arnab Mukherji, Center for Public Policy, IIM Bangalore
Divya Rajaraman, St John's Research Institute
Hema Swaminathan, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

The prevalence and distribution of malnutrition in a society have implications for public health outcomes and policy formulation. Body Mass Index provides an indication of nutritional status. In adults, the normal BMI range is 18.5 – 24.9. Lately, there have been shifts in the global distribution of malnutrition. In high and middle income countries, problems associated with overweight and obesity have risen alarmingly. In low income countries, under-nutrition coexists with rising overnutrition and associated chronic diseases, brought about by increasing urbanization, and changes in diet and lifestyle due to globalization and economic development. Using NFHS-3, this paper examines the determinants of under and overnutrition amongst adult women and men in India. In particular, the paper focuses on indicators of economic inequality - income inequality and asset inequality. Preliminary analysis suggests that economic inequality matters for both under and overweight, but the effects across various inequality measures are not similar.

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Presented in Session 45: Social Determinants and Consequences of Body Weight