Study raises questions about ‘double malnutrition’ theory

It has been thought that both underweight and overweight people co-exist in low- and middle-income countries, especially among low socioeconomic status groups.

A new study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Canada, published September 28, 2011, in the journal PLoS One, however, raises questions about that assumption.

The study, “Global Burden of Double Malnutrition: Has Anyone Seen It?,” surveys people in 57 countries ranging from India to Peru. Senior author, SV Subramanian, professor of population health and geography, at HSPH, reports the researchers did not find a correlation between the prevalence of underweight and overweight (and vice versa) in a majority of the countries and neighborhoods surveyed. The study suggests that the hypothesized double burden of malnutrition is yet to occur in many low- and middle-income countries, he said.

Read the study

Learn more

Overweight Primarily a Problem Among Wealthier Women in Low- to Middle-income Countries (HSPH press release)

Department of Society, Human Development, and Health