Associated factors and socio-economic inequality in the prevalence of thinness and stunting among adolescent boys and girls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India.PLoS One. 2021; 16(2):e0247526.Plos
Despite economic growth observed in developing countries, under-nutrition still continues to be a major health problem. Undernutrition in adolescence can disrupt normal growth and puberty development and may have long-term impact. Therefore, it is important to study the undernutrition among adolescents. This study aimed to assess the prevalence and the associated factors of stunting, thinness and the coexistence of both (stunting and thinness) among the adolescent belonging to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India.
The study utilized data from Understanding the Lives of Adolescents and Young Adults (UDAYA) project survey, which was conducted in two Indian states Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in 2016 by Population Council under the guidance of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Utilizing information on 20,594 adolescents aged 10-19 years (adolescent boys-5,969 and adolescent girls-14,625), the study examined three outcome variables, i.e., thinness, stunting, and co-existence of both. The study used descriptive and bivariate analysis. Furthermore, the study examined income-related inequality in stunting and thinness through concentration index. At last, the study used Wagstaff decomposition analysis to decompose the concentration index.
The prevalence of thinness was higher among adolescent boys as compared to girls (25.8 per cent vs. 13.1 per cent). However, stunting was more prevalent among girls (25.6 per cent) than in boys (39.3 per cent). The odds of stunting were higher among late adolescents [Boys- OR:1.79; CI: 1.39, 2.30] and [Girls- OR: 2.25; CI: 1.90,2.67], uneducated adolescents [Boys- OR:2.90; CI: 1.67, 5.05] and [Girls- OR: 1.82; CI: 1.44,2.30], and poorest adolescents [Boys- OR:2.54; CI: 1.80, 3.58] and [Girls- OR: 1.79; CI: 1.38,2.32]. Similarly age, educational status, working status and wealth index were significantly associated with thinness among adolescent boys and girls. Media exposure [Boys- OR: 11.8% and Girls- 58.1%] and Wealth index [Boys: 80.1% and Girls: 66.2%] contributed significantly to the inequality in the prevalence of thinness among adolescents. Similarly, wealth index [Boys: 85.2% and Girls: 84.1%] was the only significant contributor to the inequality in the prevalence of stunting among adolescents.
The study provides an understanding that stunting and thinness is a significant public health concern among adolescents, and there is a need to tackle the issue comprehensively. By tackling the issue comprehensively, we mean that the state government of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar shall screen, assess, and monitor the nutritional status of adolescent boys and girls. The interventions shall focus towards both boys as well as girl adolescents, and particular emphasis should be given to adolescents who belonged to poor households. Also, efforts should be taken by stakeholders to increase family wealth status.