Tribal population of India constitutes 8.6% of the total population. They are more susceptible to undernutrition which is recognized as a prevalent health problem mainly because of their uncertainty of food supply, which has serious long term consequences for the child and adversely influences the development of the nation. The assessment of nutritional status is paramount importance because it impels to identify malnutrition which is an aggravation of morbidity and mortality. This review was aimed to find out the overall nutritional status of tribal preschool children. It also seek the major socio-cultural causes which influence the nutritional status from bio-cultural perspectives among the tribal children in India in order to make foundation of new research. In the present review, 41 papers on nutritional status of tribal preschool children published from January 1st 2000 till date, have been identified and included for analysis. To analyze the data, meta-analysis was done using MedCalc software.
The meta-analysis revealed the average rate of prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting among the preschool tribal children of India was 42.96%; 44.82% and 23.69%. Among the 41 different studies these rates vary among the different tribal groups of different states associated with their socio-economic status (10%), their cultures of food consumption (10%), maternal education (15%), child feeding practices (20%), dietary deficit during pregnancy (25%) and poor nutrition of the child (52%).
Prevalence rate of under-nutrition and stunting is relatively high in comparison to WHO in India whereas, rate of wasting was lower in comparison to national level which reflect that immediate nutritional status was poor but chronic deficiency of nutrition was less. Nutritional education and short term appropriately planned nutritional intervention programs may also be useful for enhancing their nutritional status.