This study assessed the trend of minimum acceptable dietary practices among children aged 6 to 23 months in India in the past decade.
Data collected in the National Family Health Survey during 2005 to 2006 (NFHS-3) and 2015 to 2016 (NFHS-4) were used. The sample size for this study was 11 727 children for NFHS-3 and 61 158 children for NFHS-4. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were done to identify the predictors of feeding practices. We analyzed data of last-born singleton child aged 6 to 23 months and who were living with their mother (ever-married women aged 15-49 years).
In India, low proportion (10%) of children aged 6 to 23 months received minimum acceptable diet, and its estimate remained the same in the past 10 years. Older mothers, educated mothers, antenatal care, high economic status, and place of residence were the most consistent predictors of minimum acceptable dietary intake. Over the past decade, however, the minimum acceptable dietary intake has declined among older children (odds ratio [OR] = 0.57, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-0.70; P < .001), children with overweight mothers (OR = 0.40, 95% CI, 0.31-0·50; P <.001), and children of well-off families (OR = 0.29, 95% CI, 0.23-0.37; P < .001). The odds for minimum acceptable dietary intake were significantly higher among children of high (4+) birth order (OR = 1.74, 95% CI, 1.41-2.15; P < .001), rural areas, and children living in the central, eastern, and north-eastern region.
Results indicate the need for further investigations of poor dietary intake among children living in well-off families and in the northern region. This study suggests policymakers and program managers to address contextual barriers against minimum acceptable dietary intake among children and to reconsider existing strategies in India.