How do household rice expenditures impact nutritional status?

January 2010

In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition in January 2010, researchers used data from the Bangladesh Nutrition Surveillance Project from 2000 to 2005 to explore the relationship between rice and non-rice expenditures on childhood stunting and maternal underweight. Previous studies had shown that as rice prices rise, individuals continue to consume the same amount of rice by spending a higher proportion of family income on rice and less on other foods such as meat, fruit, oils, and vegetables. This study explored how higher family rice expenditures impact nutritional status. More than 304,000 rural households with at least one child 6–59 months of age were included in the cross-sectional sample.

After adjusting for total weekly per capita household expenditures, families who spent more on non-rice foods were less likely to have stunted children in all age groups. This remained true after adjusting for factors including maternal age, education, body mass index, and child sex and age. Similarly, the prevalence of maternal underweight was lower in families that spent more on non-rice food items. The authors conclude that there is a clear protective effect of having a diverse diet and warn of the potential negative impact of rising staple food prices on malnutrition rates in developing countries.

Household Rice Expenditure and Maternal and Child Nutritional Status in Bangladesh