Socioeconomic disparities and the familial coexistence of child stunting and maternal overweight in Guatemala

Econ Hum Biol. 2012 Jul;10(3):232-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2011.08.002. Epub 2011 Aug 16.


The double burden of malnutrition, defined here as households with a stunted child and an overweight mother (SCOM), is a growing problem in Guatemala. We explored the magnitude of SCOM and the identification of socio-economic factors associated with this malnutrition duality. From the 2000 Living Standards Measurement Study from Guatemala, we obtained a sample of 2492 households with pairs of children 6-60 months and their mothers (18-49 years) and estimated the prevalence of SCOM. Economic characteristics of this sample were assessed with the Concentration Index (CI). Results revealed higher prevalence of child stunting, but a lower prevalence of maternal overweight among the poor compared to the rich households. Economic inequality in child stunting was greater than economic inequality in maternal overweight (CI=-0.22 vs. +0.14). SCOM pairs were more prevalent among the poor and middle SES groups as compared to the rich households. A multivariate logistic regression model showed that SCOM was more likely to occur in households from the middle consumption quintile than in those from the first quintile (odds ratio=1.7). The findings reported here add new insights into the complex phenomenon observed in households with both extremes of the malnutrition continuum, and support the need for the identification of economic, social and biological interventions aimed at, on the one hand, the prevention of this duality of the malnutrition in those households where it is still non-existent, and on the other hand, to deter or correct the economic, social and biological environments where those mother-child dyads are already affected by such phenomena.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Guatemala / epidemiology
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Young Adult