Do Spikes in Food Prices Increase the Risk of Malnutrition among Children? A Quasi-Natural Experiment Using Longitudinal Data in Andhra Pradesh, India

Sukumar Vellakkal, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
Jasmine Fledderjohann, University of Oxford
Sanjay Basu, Stanford University
Sutapa Agrawal, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
Shah Ebrahim, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
Oona Campbell, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Pat Doyle, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
David Stuckler, University of Oxford

Global food prices rose sharply since 2007. We investigated the effect of food price rises on child nutrition in Andhra Pradesh, India. A quasi-natural experiment design was employed based on periods prior to (2006) and after (2009) food price spikes, using the Young Lives longitudinal cohort of 1,922 children and the NSSO’s food price data. Two-stage instrumental variables least-squares models assessed the relation of food prices changes to food consumption and wasting prevalence (weight-for-height z-scores). Each 10 rupee increase (US$0.17) in the price of rice/kg was associated with 148 grams/day drop in rice consumption (ß = -14.8, 95% CI: -21.6 to -8.1). Correspondingly, lower rice consumption was significantly associated with lower weight-for-height Z scores (i.e., wasting) by 0.23 (95% CI: 0.04 to 0.43), as seen with most other food categories. Policies to help ensure the affordability of food in context of economic growth are likely critical for promoting children’s nutrition.

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Presented in Session 77: Population, Agriculture, Economics, and Nutrition Security