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FHS India Research Brief 7: Open defecation and childhood undernutrition in the Indian Sundarbans: A case study from rural West Bengal

Future Health Systems

A recent study carried out by Future Health Systems (FHS) India has revealed that about one third children (aged 0-6 years) are stunted and 38.6 percent children are under weight in the Indian Sundarbans. An earlier FHS study has revealed that the region suffers from higher burden of malnutrition compared to state and national average . Among the several determinants of child malnutrition – ranging from individual factors to societal ones – recent evidence indicates open defecation as an important determinant responsible for child malnutrition.

This research brief explores the association between underweight children (0-6 years) and open defecation in the context of Indian Sundarbans, where low body weight is considered as an indicator of childhood malnutrition.