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Cornell University

Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition

Understanding the Multidimensional Nature of the Malnutrition Problem in India


India’s slow progress in combating its malnutrition problem was highlighted most starkly when a comparison between its rates of poverty and malnutrition decline between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s was brought to the fore, with the release of the National Family Health Survey in 2005. In this chapter, the authors bring together several strands of research on malnutrition in India in a comprehensive narrative synthesis of the existing literature. By focusing exclusively on comparable anthropometric outcomes, they throw light on the relative strength of different nutrition determinants and interventions. The authors also differentiate rigorous studies from ones with poor internal validity, to highlight gaps in the literature. At the country level, India’s progress in tackling malnutrition has been discordant with its pace of economic growth and poverty decline. Regression-based inequality decomposition by S. Chalasani found that the largest contributions to wealth-based malnutrition inequality come from inequalities in maternal education, followed by birth order.

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