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Sri Lanka has impressive socio-economic indicators at national level in comparison to many of its South Asian neighbours. However, at the same time, significant income, health and nutrition inequalities are evident, both between different geographic areas and across wealth groups. As a result, high rates of maternal and child undernutrition, (in particular acute malnutrition among children under five) together with rapidly rising overweight / obesity and non-communicable diseases, continue to present a major set challenges in Sri Lanka.
In general, the areas with the highest rates of maternal and child undernutrition are those districts with the highest proportion of rural poverty and vulnerability - including tea estate related employment and conflict-affected populations. In fact, the most recent nutrition data suggests that there has been no change in the percentage of stunted children under the age of five since 2006.
The strong connection between socio-economic inequalities and malnutrition highlights the need for an inclusive and multi-sectoral approach if this nutrition anomaly is to be overcome.