A recent study suggests that in a country like India, the problem of malnutrition is not just limited to the lack of calorie intake. Indians mainly depend on a carbohydrate-based diet, which is low in protein and fat. Apart from this, lack of proper sanitation also triggers infection-borne deficiencies and leads to malnutrition. The results of the study have been examined at length by various government bodies and experts. The relation between malnutrition and other issues has also been addressed. This analysis can assist in finding solutions to fight malnutrition, which can help the country reap the benifits of having a huge population.
1. Malnutrition by the numbers
Did you know India has one of the highest populations of children suffering from malnutrition in the world? The country, that is double the size of Sub-Saharan African countries, is ranked even below North Korea or Sudan, at 67 out of 80 nations, on the Global Hunger Index, says a report by the World Bank. It’s even more shocking that 44% of children under the age of five in the country are underweight and 72% of newborns are anaemic. Madhya Pradesh has the most malnourished children (60%) followed by Jharkhand (56.5%) and Bihar (55.9%).
2. Impaired growth
Impaired growth results in an underdeveloped brain that leads to lower mental capacity, learning disabilities and increased risk of diabetes and hypertension in future. Chronic undernutrition is calculated as the percentage of children below 60 months of age whose height is two or more standard deviations lower than the median for WHO Child Growth Standards. In India, this figure is as high as 48% due to high levels of malnutrition. National Family Health Survey 2006 estimated 61 million children to be stunted, another 53 million were underweight.
3. Infant mortality
Indians show less interest in proteins and fat, which are essential for early child growth and proper development. Vegetarianism also leaves a strong impact on the health of an individual, as vegetarians avoid eggs and meat, which further leads to a protein deficit. Also, while access to toilets has been improving, nearly 50% of Indians still defecate in the open, which leads to chronic infections and malnutrition in young children.
4. Maternal health and mortality
India suffers from poor maternal health, which also affects the health of infants. If the mother is not well, it affects the baby’s immunity and decreases the nutritional value of breast milk. Pregnant women in India offer suffer from poor BMIs and micronutritional deficiencies. The number of young girls becoming mothers has also gone up, leading to a high maternal mortality rate. Their children also have 50% fewer chances of survival and are generally weak. Anaemia is considered a major cause of mortality in women, including deaths due to haemorrhages and infections.
India’s fight against malnutrition requires immense capacity-building. While India has seen a dramatic fall in underweight and stunted children, there is still a long way to go as India is still home to the shortest kids in the world. Further, the number of infants below 6 months, who are exclusively breastfed has risen 46 % to 72 %. A nation-wide Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC), showed a marked improvement in malnutrition. Donate to charity to provide food rehabilitation and an access to sustained nutrition to India’s most underprivileged children who are the future of our country.