Socioeconomic Inequalities in Child Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Do They Differ by Region?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 8;17(3):1079. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17031079.


Socioeconomic inequality in child malnutrition is well-evident in Bangladesh. However, little is known about whether this inequality differs by regional contexts. We used pooled data from the 2011 and 2014 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey to examine regional differences in socioeconomic inequalities in stunting and underweight among children under five. The analysis included 14,602 children aged 0-59 months. We used logistic regression models and the Concentration index to assess and quantify wealth- and education-related inequalities in child malnutrition. We found stunting and underweight to be more concentrated among children from poorer households and born to less-educated mothers. Although the poverty level was low in the eastern regions, socioeconomic inequalities were greater in these regions compared to the western regions. The extent of socioeconomic inequality was the highest in Sylhet and Chittagong for stunting and underweight, respectively, while it was the lowest in Khulna. Regression results demonstrated the protective effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on child malnutrition. The regional differences in the effects of SES tend to diverge at the lower levels of SES, while they converge or attenuate at the highest levels. Our findings have policy implications for developing programs and interventions targeted to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in child malnutrition in subnational regions of Bangladesh.

Keywords: Bangladesh; inequalities; regional variation; socioeconomic status; stunting; underweight.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / economics
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / economics
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / etiology*
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Thinness / economics
  • Thinness / epidemiology
  • Thinness / etiology*