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Examining the changing profile of undernutrition in the context of food price rises and greater inequality


  • Nandy, Shailen
  • Daoud, Adel
  • Gordon, David


This paper examines how the profile of undernutrition among children in two African countries (Ethiopia and Nigeria) changed over the period of the 2007/08 food, fuel and financial crisis. Using the Composite Index of Anthropometric Failure (CIAF), an indicator which allows for a comprehensive assessment of undernutrition in young children, we examine what changes occurred in the composition of undernutrition, and how these changes were distributed amongst children in different socio-economic groups. This is important as certain combinations of anthropometric failure (AF), especially the experience of multiple failures (dual and triple combinations of AF) are associated with higher morbidity and mortality risks, and are also related to poverty. Our hypothesis is that increases in food prices during the crisis contributed to an increase in inequality, which may have resulted in concurrent increases in the prevalence of more damaging forms of undernutrition amongst poorer children. While both countries witnessed large increases in food prices, the effects were quite different. Ethiopia managed reduce the prevalence of multiple anthropometric failure between 2005 and 2011 across most groups and regions. By contrast, in Nigeria prevalence increased between 2008 and 2013, and particularly so in the poorer, northern states. The countries studied applied quite different policies in response to food price increases, with the results from Ethiopia demonstrating that protectionist public health and nutrition interventions can mitigate the impacts of price increases on poor children.

Suggested Citation

  • Nandy, Shailen & Daoud, Adel & Gordon, David, 2016. "Examining the changing profile of undernutrition in the context of food price rises and greater inequality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 153-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:149:y:2016:i:c:p:153-163
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.11.036

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Isabel Ortiz & Jingqing Chai & Matthew Cummins, 2011. "Escalating Food Prices: The threat to poor households and policies to safeguard a Recovery for All," Working papers 1101, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    2. Jeroen Smits & Roel Steendijk, 2015. "The International Wealth Index (IWI)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 65-85, May.
    3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Maxim Pinkovskiy, 2010. "African Poverty is Falling...Much Faster than You Think!," NBER Working Papers 15775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nandy, Shailen & Jaime Miranda, J., 2008. "Overlooking undernutrition? Using a composite index of anthropometric failure to assess how underweight misses and misleads the assessment of undernutrition in young children," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1963-1966, May.
    5. Svedberg, Peter, 2000. "Poverty and Undernutrition: Theory, Measurement, and Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292685.
    6. Ronald Mendoza, 2009. "Aggregate Shocks, Poor Household and Children: Transmission Channels and Policy Responses," Working papers 0901, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    7. Thomas Pogge, 2004. "The First United Nations Millennium Development Goal: A cause for celebration?," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 377-397.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daoud, Adel & Kim, Rockli & Subramanian, S.V., 2019. "Predicting women's height from their socioeconomic status: A machine learning approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 238(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Daoud, Adel & Reinsberg, Bernhard & Kentikelenis, Alexander E. & Stubbs, Thomas H. & King, Lawrence P., 2019. "The International Monetary Fund’s interventions in food and agriculture: An analysis of loans and conditions," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 204-218.


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