Examining the changing profile of undernutrition in the context of food price rises and greater inequality

Shailen Nandy*, Adel Daoud, David Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
513 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines how the profile of undernutrition among children in two African countries (Ethiopia and Nigeria) changed over the period of the 2007/08 food, fuel and financial crisis. Using the Composite Index of Anthropometric Failure (CIAF), an indicator which allows for a comprehensive assessment of undernutrition in young children, we examine what changes occurred in the composition of undernutrition, and how these changes were distributed amongst children in different socio-economic groups. This is important as certain combinations of anthropometric failure (AF), especially the experience of multiple failures (dual and triple combinations of AF) are associated with higher morbidity and mortality risks, and are also related to poverty. Our hypothesis is that increases in food prices during the crisis contributed to an increase in inequality, which may have resulted in concurrent increases in the prevalence of more damaging forms of undernutrition amongst poorer children.

While both countries witnessed large increases in food prices, the effects were quite different. Ethiopia managed reduce the prevalence of multiple anthropometric failure between 2005 and 2011 across most groups and regions. By contrast, in Nigeria prevalence increased between 2008 and 2013, and particularly so in the poorer, northern states. The countries studied applied quite different policies in response to food price increases, with the results from Ethiopia demonstrating that protectionist public health and nutrition interventions can mitigate the impacts of price increases on poor children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date12 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Poverty Institute


  • Anthropometric failure
  • Ethiopia
  • Food prices
  • Multi-level modelling
  • Nigeria
  • Poverty
  • Undernutrition


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