Malnutrition Gap as a New Measure of Child Malnutrition: A Global Application
25 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2018
Date Written: December 2017
“Leaving no one behind” is an overarching principle of the newly adopted SDGs. Many countries are in particular prioritizing resources on those who are furthest behind. Existing malnutrition indicators—underweight, stunting, wasting, overweight and severe wasting—are headcount ratios. They do not capture how far behind the malnourished children are from the WHO growth standards. To enable SDGs monitoring with a focus on individuals who are furthest behind, this study develops a new malnutrition measurement using the method introduced by Foster, Greer and Thorbecke (1984), originally developed for estimating poverty. This study estimates the prevalence, gap and gap squared for stunting, wasting, overweight and underweight using DHS and MICS data from 94 developing countries over 20 years. Aggregated estimates for geographic regions and income groups are also calculated. Results show that in most cases the headcount and the gap are moving in the same direction (and improving), implying that the policies in place have been effective for all the children below the reference line, not just those closest to it. In addition, employing the new measures, we are able to identify countries that have low levels of headcount for a malnutrition measure, but have comparatively high severity of malnutrition according to the gap measures, and vice versa.
Keywords: new measurement, malnutrition, gap, severity, global dataset
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