The eastern state of Chhattisgarh had the highest reduction of stunting, that is low height for weight, among children under the age of five to 37.6%, according to the latest national health data, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 2015-16, from 52.9% in NFHS-3 in 2005-06.

As many as 38.4% children under the age of five were found stunted in India in NFHS-4, down 9.6 percentage points from 48% in NFHS-3.

Chhattisgarh moved from being the state with the fourth-worst proportion of stunted children in 2005-06 to being better than the all-India average of 38.4%.

Stunting is irreversible after the age of two, and has long-term social and economic consequences. Stunted children’s school performance is poorer than their non-stunted counterparts, and they earn 22% less than their peers in adulthood.

Stunting further affects a country’s economy: malnutrition is costing 11% of GDP annually across Asia and Africa.

Arunachal Pradesh with 13.9 percentage points reduction, Gujarat (13.2), Himachal Pradesh (12.3) and West Bengal (12.1) saw major declines in stunted children in 10 years.

Source: Lok Sabha NOTE: In 2005-06, no data for Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep & Puducherry. Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014 into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In 2015-16, no data for Uttar Pradesh.

(Yadavar is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

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