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Survey: Improvement in child malnutrition in India

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The latest data regarding the status of nutrition in India’s nine poorest states reveals that most states have been successful in reducing the number of underweight children over the last decade. On the other hand, the scenario regarding child stunting has given mixed results. On one hand, Bihar and Uttarakhand have improved on all aspects, Uttar Pradesh has degraded on all of them.

children-malnutrition-ARTICLEThe Office of the Registrar General of India released the results of the Clinical, Anthropometric and Biochemical (CAB) survey, which was conducted in 2014, this week. This survey was conducted as a part of the Annual Health Survey, which collects health information from a representative sample of every district in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand–India’s eight Empowered Action Group (EAG) states– and Assam. In an exclusive survey, the CAB collected district-level data on key anthropometric indicators like child stunting, child wasting and children underweight.

This data was last collected in 2005-06 in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) III. While NFHS III and CAB were conducted on different samples, the results are to be representative at the state level. An analogy between the NFHS and CAB reveals that eight of the nine states were successful to quite an extent in reducing the proportion of underweight children; Uttar Pradesh was the odd one out, where the proportion actually rose slightly over the last decade.

These revelations come in the backdrop of the NDA government’s turnabout over the release of the Rapid Survey of Children (RSOC), a nationwide sample survey instructed by the previous government and supervised by UNICEF. The RSOC revealed positive results in all child health indicators, but the results were initially kept secret by the new government and was later made public after media reported of leaked findings.

The RSOC’s findings on other child anthropometric indicators like child wasting and child stunting are comparatively more positive than the results gained from CAB. The RSOC showed improvements in all CAG states on child stunting, the CAB showed positive results in only five states– Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Odisha and Uttarakhand. Only four states– Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand– showed positive results on the parameters of child wasting. Results of CAB confirm the findings of the RSOC, that girls were more likely to be underweight than boys in 2005-06 but 2014 results are vice-versa, where boys are slightly more likely to be underweight than girls.

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