The burden of anemia among women in India

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;57(1):52-60. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601504.


Objective: This research investigates the prevalence and determinants of anemia among women in Andhra Pradesh. We examined differences in anemia related to social class, urban/rural location and nutrition status body mass index (BMI). We hypothesized that rural women would have higher prevalence of anemia compared to urban women, particularly among the lower income groups, and that women with low body mass index (BMI; <18.5 kg/m(2)) would have a higher risk compared to normal or overweight women.

Design: The National Family Health Survey 1998/99 (NFHS-2) provides nationally representative cross-sectional survey data on women's hemoglobin status, body weight, diet, social, demographic and other household and individual level factors. Ordered logit regression analyses were applied to identify socio-economic, regional and demographic determinants of anemia.

Setting: Andhra Pradesh, a southern Indian state.

Subjects: A total of 4032 ever-married women aged 15-49 from 3872 households.

Results: Prevalence of anemia was high among all women. In all 32.4% of women had mild (100-109.99 g/l for pregnant women, 100-119.99 for non-pregnant women), 14.19% had moderate (70-99.99 g/l), and 2.2% had severe anemia (<70 g/l). Protective factors include Muslim religion, reported consumption of alcohol or pulses, and high socioeconomic status, particularly in urban areas. Poor urban women had the highest rates and odds of being anemic. Fifty-two percent of thin, 50% of normal BMI, and 41% of overweight women were anemic.

Conclusions: New program strategies are needed, particularly those that improve the overall nutrition status of women of reproductive ages. This will require tailored programs across socio-economic groups and within both rural and urban areas, but particularly among the urban and rural poor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Anemia / prevention & control
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Iron, Dietary / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Health
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health


  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron, Dietary