Shared environments: a multilevel analysis of community context and child nutritional status in Bangladesh Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractObjectiveThe goal of the present study was to examine the influence of community environment on the nutritional status (weight-for-age and height-for-age) of children (aged 0–59 months) in Bangladesh. In addition, we tested the association between specific characteristics of community environments and child nutritional status.DesignCross-sectional survey.SettingThe data are from the nationally representative 2004 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey.SubjectsRespondents were ever-married women (aged 15–49 years) and their children (n 5731), residing in 361 communities. Child nutritional outcomes are physical measurements of weight-for-age and height-for-age in sd units. We considered the following attributes of community environments potentially related to child nutrition: (i) community water and sanitation infrastructure; (ii) availability of community health and education services; (iii) community employment and social participation; and (iv) education level of the community.ResultsMultilevel regression analysis showed that the spatial distribution of maternal and child covariates did not entirely explain the between-community variation in child nutritional status. The education level of the community emerged as the strongest community-level predictor of child height-for-age (highest v. lowest tertile, β = 0·18 (se 0·07)) and weight-for-age (highest v. lowest tertile, β = 0·21 (se 0·06)). In the height-for-age model, community employment and social participation also emerged as being statistically significant (highest v. lowest tertile, β = 0·13 (se = 0·06)).ConclusionsThe community environment influences child nutrition in Bangladesh, and maternal- and child-level covariates may fail to capture the entire influence of communities. Interventions to reduce child undernutrition in developing countries should take into consideration the wider community context.


  • Corsi, Daniel J
  • Chow, Clara K
  • Lear, Scott A
  • Rahman, M Omar
  • Subramanian, SV
  • Teo, Koon

publication date

  • June 2011

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