Sunday, September 16, 2012


Malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. One in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.
Malnutrition limits development and the capacity to learn. It also costs lives: about 50 per cent of all childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition.
In India, around 46 per cent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 per cent are underweight and at least 16 per cent are wasted. Many of these children are severely malnourished.
The prevalence of malnutrition varies across states, with Madhya Pradesh recording the highest rate (55 per cent) and Kerala among the lowest (27 per cent).
Malnutrition in children is not affected by food intake alone; it is also influenced by access to health services, quality of care for the child and pregnant mother as well as good hygiene practices. Girls are more at risk of malnutrition than boys because of their lower social status.
1 in 3 of the world's malnourished children lives in India.
Malnutrition in early childhood has serious, long-term consequences because it impedes motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional development. Malnourished children are less likely to perform well in school and more likely to grow into malnourished adults, at greater risk of disease and early death. Around one-third of all adult women are underweight. Inadequate care of women and girls, especially during pregnancy, results in low- birth weight babies. Nearly 30 per cent of all newborns have a low birth weight, making them vulnerable to further malnutrition and disease.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies also affect children’s survival and development. Anaemia affects 74 per cent of children under the age of three, more than 90 per cent of adolescent girls and 50 per cent of women. Iodine deficiency, which reduces learning capacity by up to 13 per cent, is widespread because fewer than half of all households use iodised salt. Vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness and increases morbidity and mortality among pre-schoolers, also remains a public-health problem.

Malnutrition places a heavy burden on India. It is linked to half of all child deaths and nearly a quarter of cases of disease. Malnourished children tend not to reach their potential, physically or mentally, and they do worse at school than they otherwise would. This has a direct impact on productivity: the World Bank reckons that in low-income Asian countries physical impairments caused by malnutrition knock 3% off GDP. Why, then, has India done so little to reduce it?
There are many reasons. Most fundamentally, poor parents find it hard to buy enough food; but that is by no means the only factor. Impoverished and rural families are also less likely to go to a doctor when their children fall sick, which they do a lot, thanks to dirty water and poor hygiene. Inadequate nutrition lowers the immune system, increasing the risk of infectious disease; illness, in turn, depletes a child's nutritional stocks.

Cow's milk and water
Even the children of wealthier families suffer surprisingly high rates of malnutrition. Government data show that a third of children from the wealthiest fifth of India's population are malnourished. This is because poor feeding practices—foremost among them a failure exclusively to breastfeed in the first six months—play as big a role in India's malnutrition rates as food shortages. Here lies an opportunity: educating parents about how to feed their children should be more quickly achieved than ensuring that the 410m Indians who live below the UN's estimated poverty line of $1.25 a day have enough to eat.

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Source: Articles taken from internet.