Publication: Nutritional Status and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Sahn, David E.
Alderman, H.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has had an aggregate malnutrition rate of nearly 30 percent for the last decade. While malnutrition prevalence has decreased significantly in most other developing countries in the last decade, it has been nearly static for SSA. This static trend in the percentage of malnourished children, however, does not fully reflect the rapidly rising numbers of malnourished children given SSA's high population growth rate. The LSMS/ISs, or (Living Standards Measurement Survey/ Integrated Survey) and PSs (Priority Survey) over the last decade provide for the first time data to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of the factors that could affect malnutrition in selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Based on LSMS data, determinants of malnutrition are investigated for Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. Both studies find that household expenditure plays an important role in improving the preschool-age children's long-term nutritional indicator status (height-for-age), but not the short-term nutritional indicator status (weight-for-height). Nutritional studies have found that linear (height-for-age) growth and ponderal (weight-for-height) growth have different nutritional requirements. Just as overall dietary inadequacy (also called protein-energy malnutrition) causes stunting, so does deficiency in any of a large number of micronutrients. Micronutrients are concentrated in specific foods and are low or absent in staple grains and legumes. Since the specific foods are often more expensive than staples, stunting and wasting may be affected differently by income. The purpose here is to review the evidence for this proposition using available data from SSA countries.
Sahn, David E.; Alderman, H.. 1998. Nutritional Status and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa Region Findings & Good Practice Infobriefs; No. 108. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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