New approaches to analyzing malnutrition data in India

There is substantial variation in child malnutrition across India’s 543 parliamentary constituencies, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.

The study, published in SSM Population Health, examined four different methodologies of analyzing data from the large National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which the researchers said has a complex design that can make analyzing the data for specific regions difficult. The researchers focused specifically on two important indicators of child malnutrition — stunting and low birth weight.

The researchers noted that in India, there are 640 “districts” and 543 “parliamentary constituencies,” which overlap to some extent. They said that key developmental indicators are routinely available for the districts, which are administrative units, but not for the parliamentary constituencies, which are political units. The researchers said that being able to drill down and look at the data by parliamentary constituencies could help better inform policy makers who work in those areas.

Harvard Chan School authors included S V Subramanian, professor of population health and geography, and research associate Rockli Kim.

Read the SSM Population Health article: Estimating the burden of child malnutrition across parliamentary constituencies in India: A methodological comparison