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Econ Hum Biol. 2008 Jul;6(2):264-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 May 28.

Geography of underweight and overweight among women in India: a multilevel analysis of 3204 neighborhoods in 26 states.

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Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, KRESGE 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02115-6096, USA.


We investigated the geographic distribution and the relationship with neighborhood wealth of underweight and overweight in India. Using multilevel modeling techniques, we calculated state-specific smoothed shrunken state residuals of overweight and underweight, neighborhood and state variation of nutritional status, and the relationships between neighborhood wealth and nutritional status of 76,681 women living in 3204 neighborhoods in 26 Indian states. We found a substantial variation in overweight and underweight at the neighborhood and state levels, net of what could be attributed to individual-level factors. Neighborhood wealth was associated with increased levels of overweight and decreased levels of underweight, and was found to modify the relationship between personal living standard and nutritional status. These findings suggest that interventions to address the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition in India must take into account state and neighborhood characteristics in order to be successful.

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