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Determinants of intra-household food allocation between adults in South Asia - a systematic review

Harris-Fry, H; Shrestha, N; Costello, A; Saville, NM; (2017) Determinants of intra-household food allocation between adults in South Asia - a systematic review. International Journal for Equity in Health , 16 , Article 107. 10.1186/s12939-017-0603-1. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Nutrition interventions, often delivered at the household level, could increase their efficiency by channelling resources towards pregnant or lactating women, instead of leaving resources to be disproportionately allocated to traditionally favoured men. However, understanding of how to design targeted nutrition programs is limited by a lack of understanding of the factors affecting the intra-household allocation of food. METHODS: We systematically reviewed literature on the factors affecting the allocation of food to adults in South Asian households (in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) and developed a framework of food allocation determinants. Two reviewers independently searched and filtered results from PubMed, Web of Knowledge and Scopus databases by using pre-defined search terms and hand-searching the references from selected papers. Determinants were extracted, categorised into a framework, and narratively described. We used adapted Downs and Black and Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklists to assess the quality of evidence. RESULTS: Out of 6928 retrieved studies we found 60 relevant results. Recent, high quality evidence was limited and mainly from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. There were no results from Iran, Afghanistan, Maldives, or Bhutan. At the intra-household level, food allocation was determined by relative differences in household members’ income, bargaining power, food behaviours, social status, tastes and preferences, and interpersonal relationships. Household-level determinants included wealth, food security, occupation, land ownership, household size, religion / ethnicity / caste, education, and nutrition knowledge. In general, the highest inequity occurred in households experiencing severe or unexpected food insecurity, and also in better-off, high caste households, whereas poorer, low caste but not severely food insecure households were more equitable. Food allocation also varied regionally and seasonally. CONCLUSION: Program benefits may be differentially distributed within households of different socioeconomic status, and targeting of nutrition programs might be improved by influencing determinants that are amenable to change, such as food security, women’s employment, or nutrition knowledge. Longitudinal studies in different settings could unravel causal effects. Conclusions are not generalizable to the whole South Asian region, and research is needed in many countries.

Type: Article
Title: Determinants of intra-household food allocation between adults in South Asia - a systematic review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12939-017-0603-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-017-0603-1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Food allocation, Equity, Intra-household, South Asia, Food habits, Gender, Systematic review
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1565059
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