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Growth and nutritional status of preschool children in India: a study of two recent time periods



Growth and nutritional status of preschool children in India: a study of two recent time periods



Food and Nutrition Bulletin 32(2): 84-93



Preschool children call for focused attention in India because India has the highest percentage of undernourished children in the world. To compare the growth and nutritional status of Indian preschool children for the periods 1998/99 and 2005/06, Using data on weight and length/height as well as the sociodemographic background of preschool children from the National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) from 1998/99 and 2005/06, we determined the distribution of weight and length/height and their association with sociodemographic variables. The distributions of weight and length/height around the mean remained remarkably stable over age but were much greater in India than the international norms. The rates of growth of mean weight and length/ height were far lower in India than the international norms up to the age of 2 years. The temporal trend indicates declines in the percentages of undernourished (low weight-for-age) and stunted (low height-for-age) children over the 7-year period, although the degree of improvement was far better for stunting than for underweight. Mother's educational status is the only variable that has been found to influence child nutrition. The level of mothers' education needs urgent attention with top priority to reduce the prevalence of underweight and stunting of children. This also implies that, for future benefit, girls should be given more facilities for better education. Breastfeeding and weaning practices also need special attention.

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Accession: 053448884

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PMID: 22164970



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