Understanding relationships between socioeconomic, household crop diversification, and child malnutrition in rural Jhargram, West Bengal, India
In India, child malnutrition remains a huge, persistent challenge to tackle with due to its complex and multidimensional nature. Malnutrition among children under 5 years old can lead to cognitive and physical impediments. Therefore, the objective of this study is to understand the determinants and the linkage of child malnutrition with socioeconomic characteristics and household crop diversification. In this study, the primary data collected from 200 households in the rural area of Jhargram district in West Bengal, India, during April to May 2017 were analyzed. For determining the child nutritional status, the World Health Organization (WHO) growth standard measurement was analyzed using the WHO-anthro software. The transformed Herfindahl index was calculated to illustrate the crop diversification. Statistical methods, such as bivariate analyses and logistic regression models, were used for data analysis. The study found that 36% of the children in the sample had stunted growth, 35.5% were underweight, and 22.5% were identified as wasted. It was found that cropping intensity was very high (183%) in the region, with low crop diversification. Results from logistic regression models found a significant relationship between child malnutrition and birth order, mother’s age, caste status, type of house, and farm size of the household. The study also found that low crop diversification of a household was significantly associated with higher malnourishment level among the children. Taken together, these findings indicate the importance of socioeconomic and demographic characteristics as well as crop diversification for improving the nutritional status of children.
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