We investigate the nutritional status of women in India and its relation to the prevalence of chronic energy deficiency (CED) and obesity. To do this, we have used the data from the Indian National Family Health Survey, 1998–1999, on body mass index (BMI) of ever-married women, ages 15–49 years, along with several socioeconomic factors, such as level of education, religion or caste, occupational status, and standard of living index. The study was based on 81,712 women from 26 states and 6 zones, which were grouped according to geographic proximity of the states of India. A multiple linear regression analysis was done to see the relation between nutritional status of women and different socioeconomic factors. The data reveal that the prevalences of CED, overweight, and obesity in India are 31.2%, 9.4%, and 2.6%, respectively. The incidences of CED and obesity are negatively related. The prevalence of CED is the lowest in Arunachal Pradesh and highest in Orissa. Punjab has the highest prevalence of obesity, and Bihar has the lowest. For the zonewise distribution the Northeast zone has the lowest degree of prevalence of CED and the East zone is at the bottom of the list with the highest degree of malnutrition. We also found that the nutritional status of women goes together with the enhancement of their educational status, standard of living, and so on. There are also significant differences between rural and urban sectors and among castes, religions, and occupations. Furthermore, regression analysis shows that all the socioeconomic variables considered here significantly affect BMI in Indian women.
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Vol. 79 • No. 4