Sri Lankan Girls Underweight

Sri Lankan Girls Underweight

“Alarming Rates of Underweight Girls in Sri Lanka Unveiled in Lancet Study”

In a concerning revelation, a study published in The Lancet has exposed Sri Lanka’s persistent struggle with underweight girls, ranking second globally only after India. The study, conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), spans 33 years from 1990 to 2022 and indicates a staggering prevalence of dangerously underweight girls aged 5 to 19.

The study’s Sri Lanka country profile highlights that 410,000 girls in the country are underweight, with a prevalence rate of 16.4%. Shockingly, this condition has remained unchanged since 1990. In contrast, the prevalence of underweight boys in Sri Lanka has witnessed a decline from 18 percentage points in 1990 to 17.8% in 2022, with 450,000 boys identified as underweight.


The total number of underweight girls and boys adds up to 860,000, signalling a persistent challenge in addressing malnutrition in the country. The study defines underweight as a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than two standard deviations below the WHO growth reference median.

Globally, the research covered more than 220 million people aged 5 years or older, with a focus on BMI to understand obesity and underweight. While the proportion of underweight children and adolescents fell globally from 1990 to 2022, the study underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions in regions like South Asia, where the prevalence of wasting is particularly high.

Sri Lanka’s struggle with malnutrition is not a recent phenomenon, as even before the economic challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, the country faced significant public health concerns related to malnutrition. The study reinforces the importance of addressing undernutrition to ensure the well-being and development of children, emphasizing good nutrition as a fundamental right for all children. The alarming findings call for concerted efforts and policies to combat malnutrition and improve the overall health of children in Sri Lanka.

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