Reducing childhood malnutrition in Bangladesh: The importance of addressing socio-economic inequalities

Md Rashedul Islam*, Md Shafiur Rahman, Md Mahfuzur Rahman, Shuhei Nomura, Angela De Silva, Pulani Lanerolle, Jenny Jung, Md Mizanur Rahman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To obtain projections of the prevalence of childhood malnutrition indicators up to 2030 and to analyse the changes of wealth-based inequality in malnutrition indicators and the degree of contribution of socio-economic determinants to the inequities in malnutrition indicators in Bangladesh. Additionally, to identify the risk factors of childhood malnutrition.Design: Cross-sectional study. A Bayesian linear regression model was used to estimate trends and projections of malnutrition. For equity analysis, slope index, relative index and decomposition in concentration index were used. Multilevel logistic models were used to identify risk factors of malnutrition.Setting: Household surveys in Bangladesh from 1996 to 2014.Participants: Children under the age of 5 years.Results: A decreasing trend was observed for all malnutrition indices. In 1990, predicted prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight was 55·0, 15·9 and 61·8 %, respectively. By 2030, prevalence is projected to reduce to 28·8 % for stunting, 12·3 % for wasting and 17·4 % for underweight. Prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight were 34·3, 6·9 and 32·8 percentage points lower in the richest households than the poorest households. Contribution of the wealth index to child malnutrition increased over time and the largest contribution of pro-poor inequity was explained by wealth index. Being an underweight mother, parents with a lower level of education and poorer households were the key risk factors for stunting and underweight.Conclusions: Our findings show an evidence-based need for targeted interventions to improve education and household income-generating activities among poor households to reduce inequalities and reduce the burden of child malnutrition in Bangladesh.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-82
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Bangladesh
  • Child malnutrition
  • Decomposition analysis
  • Health inequality
  • Projection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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