09/09/2013 09:59 am ET

Poor Sanitation, Not Malnutrition, May Be To Blame For India's Notoriously Stunted Children


Children in India are exceptionally short, with their stunted growth historically attributed to malnutrition. However, new evidence is suggesting that food, or lack of it, is not the cause. Noticing that Indian children were smaller than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa — who are, on average, poorer and hence less well fed -- researchers have been coming to the conclusion that diseases stemming from poor sanitation are more to blame than diet.

More than half of India’s population -- over 600 million people -- do not use a toilet because sanitation is inaccessible or unaffordable. At the same time 61.7 million Indian children are stunted, the highest prevalence in the world.