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Parental training, anemia and the impact on the nutrition of female students in China's poor rural elementary schools

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a randomized controlled trial designed to measure the impact of a parental training program on the nutritional status of primary school students in rural Shaanxi Province, in northwest China. Design/methodology/approach - Using hemoglobin (Hb) levels as the outcome variable, the authors first measure the overall impact of a nutritional training program, then measure the impact separately by gender. Both descriptive and multivariate analyses are used. Findings - The results for the descriptive and econometric results were robust and consistent with the literature. Overall, we find no impact on students' Hb levels when we trained their parents about undernutrition and anemia. In both the descriptive and multivariate results, there was no difference in the change of Hb levels between control and treatment students. Parents in the treatment group did learn more about anemia than parents in the control group, but this increased knowledge did not lead to sharp changes in behavior, in general. The authors did find, however, that there was a measurable impact of parental training on the Hb levels of female students. In both the descriptive and econometric results the authors found that the Hb levels of female students rose more than those of male students, and that this difference was statistically significant. Originality/value - The paper reports the results of a randomized controlled trial that examined the effect of parental training on students in poor, rural schools in ten counties of Shaanxi province. Taken by itself, one of the policy implications of this study is that malnutrition is still a serious problem in China and it is worse among female students than male students. When parental training is given, the health status of girls improves but the health status of boys is unchanged. Parental training may not be the best way to fight anemia, but it can help narrow the nutrition gap between girls and boys.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal China Agricultural Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 151-167

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Handle: RePEc:eme:caerpp:v:4:y:2012:i:2:p:151-167
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  1. Sonalde Desai & Soumya Alva, 1998. "Maternal education and child health: Is there a strong causal relationship?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(1), pages 71-81, February.
  2. Renfu Luo & Yaojiang Shi & Linxiu Zhang & Chengfang Liu & Scott Rozelle & Brian Sharbono & Ai Yue & Qiran Zhao & Reynaldo Martorell, 2012. "Nutrition and Educational Performance in Rural China's Elementary Schools: Results of a Randomized Control Trial in Shaanxi Province," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 735-772.
  3. Onyango-Ouma, W. & Aagaard-Hansen, J. & Jensen, B.B., 2005. "The potential of schoolchildren as health change agents in rural western Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(8), pages 1711-1722, October.
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