Nutritional Status of Children, Food Consumption Diversity and Ethnicity in Lao PDR


This study examines the effect of consumption of diversified diets and cultural practices on the nutritional status of children less than five years. The primary hypothesis of the study is that rearing of poultry, sheep and goats enable households to have access to diversified food items, which in turn increases the nutritional status of children in the household. Ordinary Least Squares and Instrumental Variable estimations techniques are employed based on a sample of over 10,000 children less than five years old from the 2011 Lao Social Indicator Survey. The main finding is that children in households that rear livestock consume diversified diets and that in turn leads to higher nutritional status. Both positive and negative statistically significant signs are observed for the prevalence of malnutrition across different ethnic groups in Lao PDR. Thus a one-size fit all intervention for malnutrition will have challenges. From a policy perspective, there should be a campaign for the consumption of diversified foods rather than a single or a couple of food items. To ensure the consumption of diversified food items, rearing of livestock has to be promoted through alternative options including educational campaigns.


Diversified diet, Livestock, Ethnicity, Height-for-age, Weight-for-age and Weight-for-height, Lao PDR

JEL Classification

I12, I18, Q18


Samuel Kobina ANNIM
Department of Economics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana

Katsushi S. IMAI
School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration
Kobe University
Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe
657-8501 Japan
Phone: +81-78-803-7036
FAX: +81-78-803-7059