Nutrition Burden India
What are the nutritional challenges children in India face ?
India is witnessing the emerging menace of over-nutrition along with the existing concern of high under-nutrition .
How bad is the situation when it comes to under-nutrition in India?
- Global Nutrition Report ranks India low in stunting among children aged less than five and in under-5 wasting.
- Micro nutrient deficiency – The burden of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, called ‘hidden hunger’, is also considerable.
- This is because a vast majority of Indians eat cereal-based food, mainly wheat and rice.
- There is an insufficient intake of food such as milk, pulses, and fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of micro nutrients.
- Effects – Women and children are the most vulnerable to micro nutrient deficiencies and consequently have adverse health affects.
- Deficiency of iron in women causes reduced physical work capacity, fatigue, etc.
- Notably it could also lead to depression and post-partum maternal haemorrhage.
- In the case of children, the impact is felt with impairment in growth and cognitive development.
- Response – In the last few decades, India has made efforts at improving the food and nutrition security of its population.
- This was done with strides in technology, irrigation practices, extension services, and progressive agricultural policies.
- Also, in the 1990s, deficiencies of micro nutrients such as zinc, folic acid, magnesium, selenium and vitamin D received more attention.
- However, despite an overall decrease in cases, the level of under-nutrition still remains high in comparison with world nations.
What is the emerging concern?
- The recent findings of the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) bring out the emerging scenario of over-nutrition in India.
- With Body Mass Index (BMI) as the measure, the survey identifies-
- around 15% of urban women to be underweight and around 30% of to be overweight or obese
- around 15% of urban men in the underweight category and a 26% in the overweight and obese category
What has led to this?
- Lifestyle and dietary patterns have undergone dramatic changes, especially among urban sections, in the recent decades.
- This has contributed to reduction in physical activity and an increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases.
- Over-nutrition is traced to be the cause for these diseases due to the imbalance between intake and activity.
- Resultantly, over-nutrition is emerging as a concern among the urban affluent segments.
What lies ahead?
- India is evidently witnessing a dual nutrition burden.
- The burden of under-nutrition among the poorer sections and that of over-nutrition among the urban well-to-do sections.
- Promotion of appropriate lifestyles and dietary intakes for the prevention and management of over-nutrition and obesity is necessary.
- On the other hand, to ensure food and nutrition security, there is a growing need for a multisectoral approach.
- The policies and programmes of various ministries should be converged for better results in agricultural practices as well as in food styles.