Washington: Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Gottingen, Germany, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, found not much association between economic growth and signs of undernutrition.
S.V. Subramanian, senior author and professor of population health and geography at HSPH, said that these findings represent a potentially major shift in how we think about policies to reduce child undernutrition, asserted that they emphasize that focusing on improving economic growth does not necessarily translate to child health gains.
The researchers analyzed data from nationally representative samples of children under three years of age taken from 121 Demographic and Health surveys done in 36 low- and middle-income countries between 1990 and 2011. They measured the effect of changes in per-head gross domestic product (GDP) on changes in stunting, underweight, and wasting.
The findings showed no link between economic growth and undernutrition rates at a country level. For individual children, a 5 per cent increase in per-head GDP was associated with a very small reduction in the odds of being stunted (0.4 per cent), underweight (1.1 per cent), or wasted (1.7 per cent). Notably, no link was observed between economic growth and undernutrition in children from the poorest households who were at greatest risk.
The study has been published in The Lancet Global Health.