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International Futures Help System

Child Undernutrition

Although obesity is a growing problem and killer around the world, the most important risk factor for children in particular has traditionally been undernutrition (often simply referred to as malnutrition).  The percentage of children undernourished (MALNCHP) affects mortality rates from communicable diseases in particular via the mechanism that the model uses to modify cause-specific mortality from the distal driver formulation by actual risk level in a country.  The core of that approach is to compare the risk-specific population attributable fraction (PAF) of total morality as calculated from the distal drivers with the PAF calculated from the actual level of the risk in the country. 

The figure below shows the approach for childhood undernutrition.  The two key variables in the distal driver formulation at any point in time (ignoring the technology factor that adds dynamics over time) are GDP per capita at purchasing power parity and years of adult education.  They are used in a cross-sectionally estimated function to calculate an implicit body mass index that then produces the associated implicit PAF.  IFs uses an alternative and more risk-factor specific formulation to forecast values of child undernutrition over time.  The PAF associated with this explicit representation of MALNCHP is compared with the PAF from the implicit calculation and the comparison alters the actual mortality pattern. 

To calculate MALNCHP the explicit formulation also uses GDP per capita, as in the distal formulation, but augments it with calories per capita and with access to safe water and sanitation (unsafe water can cause diarrheal disease and undernutrition even with caloric intake would be adequate).  A multiplicative parameter ( malnchpm ) can be used to change child undernutrition in scenario analysis.  Another parameter ( malnchpsw ) can be used to hold the level of undernutrition at the level of the first year, an approach useful for counterfactual scenario analysis.

child undernutrition flowcharts

Although not used in the health model, IFs contains two other measure of undernutrition.  The first is an alternative measure of child undernutrition developed by Smith and Haddad (2000); MALNCHPSH is computed as a function of the ratio of female and male life expectancy, of female secondary school gross enrolment rate, and of access to safe water. The second is a measure of rate of undernutrition for the entire population (MALNPOPP), computed as a function only of calories per capita.