Measuring Malnutrition and Dietary Diversity: Theory and Evidence from India

Adequate nutrition constitutes one of the most basic dimensions of human well-being. Ample evidence exists for the functional link between a diverse diet and health outcomes or economic performance. However, a concise measure to capture nutritional diversity that utilizes typical household-level data, often the only data available in developing countries, is yet to be developed. In this paper, I propose a theoretical framework for such a measure by extending the Alkire-Foster (AF) methodology. The new framework enables the calculation of both the incidence and intensity of nutritional deprivation. Applying this framework, I construct a Nutritional Deprivation Index (NDI) for Indian states using household survey data on food consumption. The NDI is unique, and, compared to existing measures, it is more effective in both identifying the inadequately nourished and revealing the extent of food deprivation.

Citation: Oldiges, C. (2017). “Measuring malnutrition and dietary diversity: Theory and evidence from India.” OPHI Working Paper 108, University of Oxford.