Food consumption patterns in India reveal that child diets are largely starved of proteins and micronutrients

Food consumption patterns in India reveal that child diets are largely starved of proteins and micronutrients

Kolkata: A report released recently by Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS), sponsored by UNESCO, shows that in India 35 per cent of children under five are stunted, 17 per cent are wasted and 33 per cent are underweight. Only 42 per cent of children (6 to 23 months) are fed at adequate frequency and only 21 per cent are fed an adequately diverse diet. Timely complementary feeding is initiated for only 53 per cent of infants aged 6-8 months. At the same time, the survey highlights that overweight and obesity increasingly begin in childhood with a growing threat of non-communicable diseases like diabetes (10 per cent) in school-aged children and adolescents. Urban India is moving into an unhealthy food snacking environment,which is influencing children's food choices and this is spreading to rural areas. Food consumption patterns in India reveal that child diets are largely starved of proteins and micronutrients and are influenced by household (adult) food choices. Over the decades, despite growing incomes, protein-based calories remain low and unchanged, and the calorific share of fruits and vegetables has declined.

The CNNS survey does show some progress in the reduction of malnutrition. It also reflects effective reach of Government programmes to prevent Vitamin A and iodine deficiency in children aged 1-4 years. "When healthy options are available and these are affordable and desirable then children and families make better food choices. As the SOWC report highlights this year, children's nutrition will improve significantly if there is an increase in the production and processing of healthy foods to deliver nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for all children," said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India. In India, the POSHAN Abhiyaan or the National Nutrition Mission is playing a major role in improving nutrition indicators across India. The Government of India's Anemia Mukt Bharat programme to fight anemia prevalence has been recognized as one of the best programmes implemented by Governments across the world to address malnutrition. The 6X6X6 strategy (six target beneficiary groups, six interventions and six institutional mechanisms) of the programme has been highlighted for using anemia testing and treatment as the entry point to provide information on healthy diets.


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