|Socioeconomic Inequalities Persist Despite Declining Stunting Prevalence in Low- and Middle-Income Countries|
||da Silva ICM, França GV, Barros AJD, Amouzou A, Krasevec J, and Victora CG
||Journal of Nutrition, 148(2):254-258; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxx050.
More than one region
Global stunting prevalence has been nearly halved between 1990 and 2016, but it remains unclear whether this decline has benefited poor and rural populations within low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
We assessed time trends in stunting among children <5 y of age (under-5) according to household wealth and place of residence in 67 LMICs.
Stunting prevalence was analyzed in 217 nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys from 67 countries with =2 surveys between 1993 and 2014. National estimates were stratified by wealth and area of residence, comparing the poorest 40% with the wealthiest 60%, and those residing in urban and rural areas. Time trends were calculated for LMICs by using multilevel regression models weighted by under-5 population, with stratification by wealth and by residence. Trends in absolute (slope index of inequality; SII) and relative (concentration index; CIX) inequalities were calculated.
Mean prevalences in 1993 were 53.7% in low-income and 48.2% in middle-income countries, with annual average linear declines of 0.76 and 0.72 percentage points (pp), respectively. Although similar slopes of declines were observed for the poorest 40% and wealthiest 60% groups in all countries (0.78 and 0.74 pp, respectively), absolute and relative inequalities increased over time in low-income countries (SII increased from -19.3% in 1993 to -23.7% in 2014 and CIX increased from -6.2% to -10.8% in the same period). In middle-income countries, socioeconomic inequalities remained stable. Overall, stunting prevalence decreased more rapidly among rural than for urban children (0.78 and 0.55 pp, respectively).
The prevalence of stunting is decreasing. Poor-rich gaps are stable in middle-income countries and slightly increasing in low-income countries. Rural-urban inequalities are decreasing over time.