In 2013 based on a Times of India report the government claimed that 48% or 62 million of the Children in India are malnourished. It is believed that 1 child dies every four minutes in India mostly from illness such as diarrhoea, typhoid, measles, pneumonia.
Additionally, 30% of the worlds Malnourished children are from India.
The condition of children below the age of 5 in India is five times as worse as the children in Sub Saharan Africa. When it comes to Malnutrition India ranks worse than Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Indonesia.
Malnutrition leads to problems such as weak immune system, risk of sickness, and risk of disease. Moreover, Malnutrition results in arrested cognitive and physical development, and a greater risk of dying.
Malnutrition is a result of causes such as insufficient maternal nutrition, and meagre feeding practices. Moreover, Malnutrition also results due to deprived food quality and recurrent infections (Sanitation).
Lack of Sanitation (Unique to India)
Nearly 620 million people in India defecates in public. Poor sanitation results in Diarrhoea due to lack of clean water. Malnutrition results from infection in the stomach due to Diarrhoea.
One in every Ten children are at the risk of death due to malnutrition in India. WHO estimates that almost 50% of malnutrition is associated with worm infection from unclean water or poor sanitation.
Obesity Food (Unique to India)
Low level of awareness about balanced food and Healthy hygiene leading to obesity has been ascribed as a cause for Malnutrition in India. Many children although correctly weighted have been observed to have poor body composition due to lack of essential nutrients. [Read here on obesity food]
Based on a report from “Mother Child Nutrition” almost half of pre-school goers have been observed to have deficiencies of essential nutrients such as Vitamin A and Iodine. Moreover, almost 75% of pre-school goers suffer from iron deficiency.
Lack of essential nutrients impair children physical and mental development in the longer run. Moreover, these damages are irreversible.
Malnutrition in India can be commonly caused by the poverty resulting in lack of access to food. Malnutrition resulting from lack of food access is usually seen in rural areas and urban slums. However, multiple steps have been taken by the government such as rationing and provisioning to offset shortage of food. [Read here on good Food Habits]
Malnutrition remains one of India’s biggest problem primarily resulting from the lack of sanitation and lack of quality food. Although measures have been taken by the government to improve sanitation; continuous patient awareness is the best way to address the problem.