Revisiting Progress Towards MDG1: Assessing the Performance of Conventional Indicators of Child Hunger

Shailen Nandy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review

Abstract

This paper discusses the importance of anthropometric indicators for young children, and their role in assessing progress towards the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) of “Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger”. It argues that the choice of underweight (low weight for age) is problematic, not least because it underestimates the true extent of undernutrition among young children. The paper proposes the use of an alternative anthropometric measure, Svedberg’s Composite Index of Anthropometric Failure (CIAF). The CIAF has a number of advantages over conventional anthropometric indicators, including being able to provide a more comprehensive and reliable estimate of the extent of undernutrition among young children in a population. It can also provide disaggregated data on different combinations of anthropometric failure. The benefits of the CIAF will be demonstrated using anthropometric data on children from India’s third National Family Health Survey (NFHS 3), to compare it with the three conventional indicators of child nutritional status, i.e. wasting, stunting and underweight.
The paper also demonstrates how conventional indicators of child nutritional status are each affected differently when going from one reference population (i.e. the original NCHS/WHO/CDC population) to another (the ‘new’ WHO Child Growth Standards). In summary, while estimates of underweight among a given population decline when the new growth standards are applied, the reverse is true for stunting and wasting. Data from five rounds of the Bangladesh DHS will be used to illustrate why this has significant implications for assessing progress towards meeting MDG1. Food price increases in 2008 and falling incomes during the global financial crisis have resulted in millions of households being unable to afford sufficient food; the direct result of this has been increased hunger and rates of malnutrition especially among children. The importance of a reliable indicator to reflect child nutritional status, in the run up to 2015 has never been more pressing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInternational Society for Child Indicators Conference - South Korea, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 29 May 201331 May 2013

Conference

ConferenceInternational Society for Child Indicators Conference
CountryKorea, Republic of
CitySeoul
Period29/05/1331/05/13

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