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Opening the box: Intrahousehold food allocation in rural Nepal

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  • Gittelsohn, Joel

Abstract

The study examined intrahousehold food behavior in six villages in a rural hill area of mid-Western Nepal. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies taken from both anthropology and nutritional sciences were used to collect data on food belief systems, household allocation of food resources, and the effect of these features on diet and anthropometric status in a sample of 767 individuals in 115 households. Background data were also collected on socioeconomic status and demographic variables such as education levels, occupation, and migration patterns. The core methodological approach used direct structured observations of meals to examine how food is distributed within households. The results document a variety of mechanisms by which some individuals are favored over others through household food distribution, including serving order, serving method, refusing to serve foods, channeling foods and substituting low status foods for high status foods. No differences were observed in mechanisms of food distribution or nutrient intake between male and female children, contrary to evidence in the literature suggesting that male children will be favored. On the other hand, adult women were less likely to meet their nutrient requirements for energy, beta-carotene, riboflavin, and vitamin C than men of the same age. Women's late position in household serving order, channeling of special foods to males and children, and lower total intake of food accounts for these findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Gittelsohn, Joel, 1991. "Opening the box: Intrahousehold food allocation in rural Nepal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1141-1154, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:33:y:1991:i:10:p:1141-1154
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    Cited by:

    1. Ueyama, Mika, 2007. "Income growth and gender bias in childhood mortality in developing countries:," IFPRI discussion papers 739, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Mullany, Britta C., 2006. "Barriers to and attitudes towards promoting husbands' involvement in maternal health in Katmandu, Nepal," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(11), pages 2798-2809, June.
    3. Haddad, Lawrence James & Peña, Christine & Nishida, Chizuru & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Slack, Alison T., 1996. "Food security and nutrition implications of intrahousehold bias," FCND discussion papers 19, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Anuradha Seth, 1998. "Intra-Household Consumption Patterns: Issues, Evidence and Implications for Human Development," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1998-18, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    5. Katz, Elizabeth G., 1995. "Gender and trade within the household: Observations from rural guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 327-342, February.
    6. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:72:y:2017:i:c:p:27-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Magnus Hatlebakk, 2012. "Malnutrition in South-Asia. Poverty, diet or lack of female empowerment?," CMI Working Papers 4, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.

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