(July 2020). Are Household Expenditures on Food Groups Associated with Children’s Future Heights in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(13), 4739.
Household expenditure surveys, routinely conducted in low—and middle-income countries (LMICs), usually include questions pertaining to recent household expenditures on key food groups. When child anthropometrics are also available, such expenditure data can provide insights into household food purchasing patterns that are associated with subsequent child growth measures.
We used data from 6993 children, born around 2001, from Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam, from the Young Lives younger cohort. We compared associations between two weeks of household food expenditures (in PPP—Purchasing Power Parity adjusted dollars) on food groups and child height-for-age-Z score (HAZ) at subsequent time points to assess longitudinal associations. Total food expenditures, rural/urban residence, maternal and paternal schooling, and child sex were included in our adjusted models because they may affect the relations between household food group expenditures and future child HAZ.
In Ethiopia, India, and Peru every extra PPP$ spent on fats was associated with 0.02–0.07 higher future HAZ. In Vietnam, every extra PPP$ spent on starches, was significantly associated with a 0.01 lower future HAZ. Across countries, different patterns of food expenditure and procurement may be differentially critical for predicting child HAZ. Our results demonstrate how expenditures on specific food groups can be associated with children’s linear growth. This study provides additional evidence of the utility of longitudinal household food expenditure data in understanding child nutritional status.