An Assessment of Stunting at a Tribal School in Biligiriranga Hills, Karnataka, India

Location: Karnataka, India

Alumni: Angela Gomez

Faculty: Edwin Michael

Background: In India, scheduled tribes (ST) are often lagging behind non-tribal populations in terms of health indicators. Low height-for-age is a simple indicator for chronic malnourishment that could suggest poor nutrition and socioeconomic conditions.

Methods: We collected and analyzed 2014-2015 school year data and 2005-2015 8th Standard data from the school health registers of Vivekenanda Girijana Kalyana Kendra Tribal School in Biligriranga Hills, Karnataka, India. Anthropometric measures of low height-for-age were used to assess levels of chronic malnutrition among tribal children and adolescents aged 6.5 to 15.5 years old. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test if mean height differed by age and gender; logistic regression was employed to evaluate the effects of age and gender and the interaction of age and gender on stunting, according to the classification of stunting according to WHO and IAP growth references. ANOVA was also used to test if mean height differed by year and gender.

Results: Age, not gender, was found to be significant when testing if height for age was different by age and gender, regardless of what growth reference was used (p<.05). The overall prevalence of stunting was found to be higher in younger age groups than in older age groups. For the ten-year data, it was found that height differed significantly by year.

Conclusion: As age increased, the likelihood of stunting decreased among tribal students. Despite the implementation of various government programs and schemes to target the holistic health and nutrition of children and adolescents, malnourishment is still a persistent problem, especially in Scheduled Tribe (ST) areas.

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