Poor water quality, one of the leading causes of diarrhea, is an issue for most developing countries. Although the health burden of poor-quality water has been studied extensively, there is a paucity of research regarding the impact of household water treatment (HWT) on children’s nutritional status using data from large-scale surveys. In this research, we study the effect of HWT on the nutritional status of primary-aged children in India using a secondary data set consisting of 20,315 children between the ages of 6 and 14 (10,523 males and 9,792 females) in 12,839 households from the second wave of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS-II).
The IHDS-II is a nationally representative, household-based, comprehensive, and face-to-face survey. Households were selected using stratified random sampling, and a team consisting of one male and one female interviewer visited each household between November 2011 and October 2012. A knowledgeable member, typically the male head of household, was interviewed about the socioeconomic condition of the household. An ever-married woman between the ages of 15 and 49, typically the wife of the male head of household, answered questions related to education and health. The height and weight of all eligible household members were measured by interviewers. Correlation between HWT and nutritional status was computed first, and the estimation of a generalized simultaneous equation model, in which a binary indicator of HWT and other covariates was included, was carried out afterward.
Bivariate analysis shows a negative association between the nutritional status of children and HWT. Additionally, findings from the generalized simultaneous equation model demonstrate that HWT increases the probability of producing normal-weighted primary-aged children by 1.7 %, while it decreases the probability of primary-aged children being thin by 2.5% and being severely thin by 1.7% in India.
This study indicates that HWT has the potential to advance the nutritional status of primary school-aged children in India.