This Friedman Seminar features Dean Spears, presenting a talk titled "Why are Children in India So Short? What Toilets, Moms, and Families Have to Do with Child Nutrition". This seminar was originally held on 3/2/2016.
Why are children in India so short? This question represents a major puzzle in global nutrition both because average child height is a critical indicator of human development and nutritional outcomes and because children in India, which has been experiencing rapid economic growth, are paradoxically shorter than children in sub-Saharan Africa, who are poorer, on average. This talk will present the puzzle of the “Asian enigma” of child height and will review evidence for two proposed explanations: exceptionally widespread exposure to poor sanitation and open defecation in India, and exceptionally poor maternal nutrition and weight gain in pregnancy. Although nutritional policy in India has often focused on providing subsidized food, these two challenges suggest that promoting the healthier growth of taller Indian children may prove enduringly difficult.