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Associations of gender inequality with child malnutrition and mortality across 96 countries

Wells, JCK; Marphatia, AA; Grijalva-Eternod, CS; Cole, TJ; (2016) Associations of gender inequality with child malnutrition and mortality across 96 countries. Global Health Epidemiology and Genomics , 1 , Article e6. 10.1017/gheg.2016.1. Green open access

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Abstract

National efforts to reduce low birth weight (LBW) and child malnutrition and mortality prioritise economic growth. However, this may be ineffective, while rising gross domestic product (GDP) also imposes health costs, such as obesity and non-communicable disease. There is a need to identify other potential routes for improving child health. We investigated associations of the Gender Inequality Index (GII), a national marker of women's disadvantages in reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation, with the prevalence of LBW, child malnutrition (stunting and wasting) and mortality under 5 years in 96 countries, adjusting for national GDP. The GII displaced GDP as a predictor of LBW, explaining 36% of the variance. Independent of GDP, the GII explained 10% of the variance in wasting and stunting and 41% of the variance in child mortality. Simulations indicated that reducing GII could lead to major reductions in LBW, child malnutrition and mortality in low- and middle-income countries. Independent of national wealth, reducing women's disempowerment relative to men may reduce LBW and promote child nutritional status and survival. Longitudinal studies are now needed to evaluate the impact of efforts to reduce societal gender inequality.

Type: Article
Title: Associations of gender inequality with child malnutrition and mortality across 96 countries
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/gheg.2016.1
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/gheg.2016.1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2016. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: • Child malnutrition, • child mortality, • economic growth, • gender inequality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477064
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