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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;54(8):643-9.

The effect of leprosy-induced deformity on the nutritional status of index cases and their household members in rural South India: a socio-economic perspective.

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School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.



To determine whether the socioeconomic and nutritional status of cured leprosy patients with residual deformity, and their household members, was lower than that of cured leprosy patients without deformity.


Cross-sectional study.


One hundred and fifty-five index cases with deformity, 100 without deformity. Also 616 household members comprising 48% of the total members enumerated.


Nutritional status was evaluated using anthropometry. Disease characteristics, socio-economic parameters and household information were recorded using a questionnaire.


Index cases with deformity had lower community acceptance (P<0.001), and employment (P<0.001) than those cases without deformity. Households of index cases with deformity had a lower income (P<0.01) and a lower expenditure on food (P<0.05). The presence of deformity (odds ratio (OR): 2.1-3.2, P<0.01), unemployment (OR: 2.3-4.3, P<0.01) and female gender (OR: 2.4, P<0. 01) significantly increased the risk of index cases being undernourished, as judged by body mass index (BMI) alone, or BMI and mid-upper arm circumference. A low BMI (<18.5) in the index case significantly increased the odds of other adults (OR 2.2), adolescents (OR 2.9-3.8) and children (OR 2.2) in the household being undernourished.


Cured leprosy index cases with physical deformity are more undernourished than index cases without deformity. This is associated with a reduced expenditure on food, possibly brought on by increased unemployment, and a loss of income. Undernutrition in the index case increases the risk of undernutrition in other members of the family. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) 54, 643-649.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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