Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (JME)

  • 29 May 2023

Recently, the 2023 Edition of the Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (JME) was released by UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank. It includes estimates of prevalence and numbers for child stunting, overweight, wasting and severe wasting.

The key findings are:

  • Reduction in Stunting: India has shown a reduction in stunting among children under five years. The prevalence rate of stunting dropped from 41.6% in 2012 to 31.7% in 2022. This resulted in 1.6 crore fewer stunted children in 2022 compared to 2012.
  • Global and Regional Comparison: Globally, the prevalence of stunting declined from 26.3% in 2012 to 22.3% in 2022. In South Asia, including India, the decline was more significant, dropping from 40.3% to 30.5%.
  • Burden of Stunting: India's share of the global burden of stunting decreased from 30% to 25% over the past decade.
  • Wasting Concern: Wasting remains a concern in India, with an overall prevalence rate of 18.7% in 2022. India contributes 49% to the global burden of wasting.
  • Obesity Levels: The prevalence of obesity among children in India increased marginally from 2.2% in 2012 to 2.8% in 2022. India's obesity numbers grew to 31.8 lakh from 27.5 lakh, contributing to 8.8% of the global share. However, the overall classification for obesity in India remains low compared to the global prevalence of 5.6%.
  • Weight Issue: The prevalence rate of overweight children globally increased from 5.5% to 5.6%.
  • NFHS Data: The decline in stunting observed in India aligns with the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 data, which estimated a prevalence of 35.5% compared to 38% in NFHS-4 and 48% in NFHS-3.
  • NFHS-5 also highlighted improvements in access to health services and reductions in underweight children but raised concerns about anaemia.
  • Maternal Malnutrition and Wasting: Wasting is a complex indicator that assesses acute malnutrition over short periods. In India, two-thirds of wasting cases among children at 12 or 24 months were found to be caused by maternal malnutrition. This suggests that children are born with low weight for height and do not recover despite weight gain.