Factors affecting child malnutrition in Ethiopia

  • Ashenafi Argaw Yirga
  • Henry G Mwambi
  • Dawit Getnet Ayele
  • Sileshi Fanta Melesse
Keywords: BMI, Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), malnutrition, proportional odds model.


Background: One of the public health problems in developing countries is child malnutrition. An important factor for children’s well-being is good nutrition. Therefore, the malnutrition status of children under the age of five is an important outcome measure for children’s health. This study uses the proportional odds model to identify risk factors associated with child malnutrition in Ethiopia using the 2016 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey data.

Methods: This study uses the 2016 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey results. Based on weight-for-height anthropometric index (Z-score) child nutrition status is categorized into four levels namely- underweight, normal, overweight and obese. Since this leads to an ordinal variable for nutrition status, an ordinal logistic regression (OLR)proportional odds model (POM) is an obvious choice for analysis.

Results: The findings and comparison of results using the cumulative logit model with and without complex survey design are presented. The study results revealed that to produce the appropriate estimates and standard errors for data that were obtained from complex survey design, model fitting based on taking the survey sampling design into account is better. It has also been found that for children under the age of five, weight of a child at birth, mother’s age, mother’s Body Mass Index (BMI), marital status of mother and region (Affar, Dire Dawa, Gambela, Harari and Somali) were influential variables significantly associated with underfive children’s nutritional status in Ethiopia.
Conclusion: This child’s age of a child, sex, weight of child at birth, mother’s BMI and region of residence were significant determinants of malnutrition of children under five years in Ethiopia. The effect of these determinants can be used to develop strategies for reducing child malnutrition in Ethiopia. Moreover, these findings show that OLR proportional odds model is appropriate assessing thedeterminants of malnutrition for ordinal nutritional status of underfive children in Ethiopia.

Keywords: BMI, Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), malnutrition, proportional odds model.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1680-6905