Undernutrition mapped to village level in India

Author(s): I. Hoskins , Date: 28 April 2021

A map predicting child undernutrition in India village by village has been developed by researchers from the USA, Korea, China and India. It’s the first time that data on undernutrition levels has been available at this scale in India and the map will be important for directing public health efforts to reduce undernutrition. The map and the research behind it are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Child undernutrition levels are high in India, around a third of children under 5 in India suffer from stunting, according to the Global Nutrition Report on India. A government initiative to reduce undernutrition was launched in 2017- the National Nutrition Mission.

At present the only data available on levels of undernutrition is at district level and according to the researchers, districts are too big for meaningful analyses covering hundreds or square miles and over a million people on average. Villages are the smallest government administrative unit in India and it makes sense for decision making at that level to have data at the same level.

The study used amenity and demography data from the 2011 Indian census for 597,121 villages and data on child health from the 2016 India Demographic and Health Survey. From this data the researchers developed a model to predict undernutrition in villages across India and to examine variations in nutrition at State, district and village level.

The prevalence of undernutrition predicted by the model ranged from under 5% in 691 villages to over 70% in 453 villages with a mean of 37.9%. The researchers discovered that around 70% of the variation in stunting and wasting occurred at village level, and for underweight more than half the variation was at village level.

"We focused on India, but this approach can be developed and applied to other countries to predict local health, nutrition and population estimates and better understand disparities,"

The maps they created are available the public at https://tiny.cc/IndiaVillage.

Find out more
Search for (undernutrition or stunting or wasting or malnutrition) and children and India

Precision mapping child undernutrition for nearly 600,000 inhabited census villages in India.
Rockli Kim, Avleen S. Bijral, Yun Xu, Xiuyuan Zhang, Jeffrey C. Blossom, Akshay Swaminathan, Gary King, Alok Kumar, Rakesh Sarwal, Juan M. Lavista Ferres, and S. V. Subramanian. (2021) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (18) e2025865118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2025865118