Introduction: Although forests and forest-based ecosystems have been shown to influence health and sustainable diets, there is limited evidence on how deforestation affects the current nutrition transition and the double burden of malnutrition. We examined the relationship between deforestation and the individual- and household-level double burden of malnutrition in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Materials and methods: We combined data from geolocated Demographic and Health Surveys and the Global Forest Change dataset. We defined household-level double burden of malnutrition as the co-occurrence of an overweight woman of childbearing age (WCBA) and a stunted pre-school child (PSC) within the same household. We defined individual-level double burden in two ways: (1) as the co-occurrence of overweight and anemia within an individual WCBA, and (2) as the co-occurrence of overweight and stunting within a PSC. We used logistic regression analysis to examine the association between forest cover loss and these three measures after adjusting for potential confounders. We also assessed the mechanisms linking forest cover loss and nutritional status, such as livestock ownership and access to clean water. Results: In our sample, the prevalence rates of the three measures of the double burden were: overweight and anemic WCBA: 8.4%, overweight WCBA and stunted PSC: 6.9%, overweight and stunted PSC: 2.7%. After adjusting for the confounders as well as country fixed effects and the month of the survey, forest cover loss was marginally associated with a higher odds of an overweight WCBA and stunted PSC [odds ratio (95% CI): 4.80 (0.82, 28.25)]. We found no association between forest cover loss and odds of an overweight and stunted PSC [odds ratio (95% CI): 2.47 (0.80, 7.60)] or the odds of an anemic and overweight WCBA [odds ratio (95% CI): 0.71 (0.15, 3.32)]. Discussion: Deforestation does not seem to be an important driver of the double burden of malnutrition in SSA. However, deforestation influences several intermediate factors which, in turn, may influence the double burden. The overall weak association between forest cover loss and double burden measures mask significant heterogeneity across regions within SSA. Future research should unpack the mechanisms behind these regional differences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Global and Planetary Change
- Agronomy and Crop Science