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Intersectional Inequalities in Anthropometric Failure among Indian Children: Evidence from the National Family Health Survey (2015-2016)
Authors: Tulsi Adhikari, Niharika Tripathi, Jeetendra Yadav, Himanshu Tolani, M Vishnu Vardhana Rao, Harpreet Kaur, and Manjeet Singh Chalga
Source: Journal of Biosocial Science, Volume 55, Issue 4; DOI:
Topic(s): Children under five
Rural-urban differentials
Wealth Index
Country: Asia
Published: JUL 2023
Abstract: Increasing body of health planning and policy research focused upon unravelling the fundamental drivers of population health and nutrition inequities, such as wealth status, educational status, caste/ethnicity, gender, place of residence, and geographical context, that often interact to produce health inequalities. However, very few studies have employed intersectional framework to explicitly demonstrate how intersecting dimensions of privilege, power, and resources form the burden of anthropometric failures of children among low-and-middle income countries including India. Data on 2,15,554 sampled children below 5 years of age from the National Family Health Survey 2015-2016 were analysed. This study employed intersectional approach to examine caste group inequalities in the anthropometric failure (i.e. moderate stunting, severe stunting, moderate underweight, severe underweight, moderate wasting, severe wasting) among children in India. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression models were fitted to investigate the heterogeneities in the burden of anthropometric failure across demographic, socioeconomic and contextual factors. Interaction effects were estimated to model the joint effects of socioeconomic position (household wealth, maternal education, urban/rural residence and geographical region) and caste groups with the likelihood of anthropometric failure among children.More than half of under-5 children suffered from anthropometric failure in India. Net of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, children from the disadvantageous caste groups whose mother were illiterate, belonged to economically poor households, resided in the rural areas, and coming from the central and eastern regions experienced disproportionately higher risk of anthropometric failure than their counterparts in India. Concerted policy processes must recognize the existing heterogeneities between and within population groups to improve the precision targeting of the beneficiary and enhance the efficiency of the nutritional program among under-5 children, particularly for the historically marginalized caste groups in India.