Food consumption patterns and dietary diversity in eastern India: evidence from village level studies (VLS) uri icon

abstract

  • The level of diversity in household diets is an indirect measure of diet quality and the extent to which nutritional needs of households are being met. There is also a positive relationship between dietary diversity and the three pillars of food security, viz., availability, access and utilization. In the light of these statements, the paper reports on the patterns of food consumption and dietary diversity in 12 selected villages of eastern India with a view to understanding the heterogeneity in food habits, quality of diet intake and the socio-economic and demographic determinants of the dietary diversity in the region. There was significant disparity across the villages in terms of budgetary shares and intake levels of different food items. The level of heterogeneity in food intake was also reflected in the estimates of dietary diversity across villages. Multiple regression analysis on the determinants of dietary diversity showed that larger households with better-educated male heads and higher purchasing power fared well on dietary diversity scores. Access to the Public Distribution System (PDS) also contributed to enhancement of dietary diversity through an indirect route, as PDS beneficiaries are better able to afford diverse food items. In contrast, low social status in the form of affiliation to scheduled castes/scheduled tribes (SC/ST) diminished diversity scores. From a policy perspective, it is therefore important to focus interventions on improving dietary diversity and nutrition security with proper understanding of the socio-economic setting of the target area and its population.

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015