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A REPORT CARD ON NUTRITION: NUMBER 4, MAY 2006 View Previous Editions>

Children in rural areas are nearly twice as likely to be underweight as children in urban areas.

Rural-urban disparities are highest in the Latin America/Caribbean and East Asia/Pacific regions, where children living in rural areas are, respectively, 2.6 times and 2.1 times as likely to be underweight as children living in urban areas.

Disparities

Disparities

Broad overall averages for regions or even for individual countries tend to hide disparities. A country with a low average prevalence of underweight children can have significant pockets of undernutrition in a particular geographical area or among certain population subgroups.

Disaggregated statistics indicate large disparities between children living in rural areas and children living in urban areas.  On average, children’s underweight prevalence in rural areas is almost double that for their urban counterparts.5 But high underweight prevalence in urban slums in many developing countries still gives cause for concern.

Significant disparities also exist between household asset quintiles, and on average, children living in the poorest households are twice as likely to be underweight as children living in the richest households.6 The greatest disparities between rich and poor are found in Latin America/Caribbean, where children living in the poorest households are 3.6 times more likely to be underweight than children from the richest households. The lowest disparities are found in East Asia/Pacific, followed by CEE/CIS and sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of gender disparities, boys and girls have a similar underweight prevalence in every region except South Asia.7 In South Asia, 47 per cent of girls are underweight compared to 44 per cent of boys.

   There is little difference in underweight prevalence in boys and girls in most regions. Only in South Asia 
   is the proportion of underweight girls higher than the proportion of underweight boys.




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5   UNICEF analysis of underweight prevalence by place of residence in 89 countries, covering 90 per cent of the developing world’s under-five population.
6   UNICEF analysis of underweight prevalence by household asset quintile in 68 countries.
7   UNICEF analysis of underweight prevalence by gender in 105 countries, covering 90 per cent of the developing world’s under-five population.