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53 Per Cent Of Children In India Are Not Growing Well Due To Lack Of Access To Food And Nutrition, Says A UN Report

According to the United Nations, even after five years of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many key indicators related to food and nutrition still demonstrate slow or no progress and the COVID-19 pandemic will further hinder the work being done to achieve the targets by 2030

53 Per Cent Of Children In India Are Not Growing Well Due To Lack Of Access To Food And Nutrition, Says A UN Report
  • Maternal nutrition education can ensure healthy diets for children: UN
  • Nearly 5.6 crore children in South Asia are too short for their age: UN
  • Nutrition is vital for a better immunity especially during pandemic: Expert

New Delhi: As the world continues to fight the health crisis levied by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has come face-to-face with another emergency- rise in hunger, according to a report released by United Nations on January 20. The report titled ‘Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition’ is the third annual report jointly written by United Nations agencies- the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The report talks about the progress made towards the Sustainable Development Goal 2 – Zero Hunger and the World Health Assembly targets 2030 on nutrition in the Asia and Pacific region. According to the report, even after five years of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many key indicators related to food and nutrition still demonstrate slow or no progress and the COVID-19 pandemic will further hinder the work being done to achieve the targets by 2030. While the report is mostly based on the data upto the year 2019, before the pandemic struck, it also estimates that an additional 14 crore people were likely fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 due to the impact of virus outbreaks and lockdowns.

Also Read: ‘I Feel Safe After Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine,’ Said A Health Worker During PM Modi’s Interaction With Beneficiaries At Varanasi

Status Of Food And Nutrition Among Children In India

According to the report, about 53 per cent of children in India are not growing well which means they are either stunted or wasted or overweight or a combination of these. Over 30 per cent of children in India are stunted while 17.3 per cent of children are wasted, which is highest in the Asia-Pacific region. Almost 1.6 per cent of children in India are overweight or are too heavy for their height. Just 42 per cent of children who are 6–23 months of age are fed the required number of times per day in the country which is poor compared to 91 per cent in Vietnam.

According to Basanta Kumar Kar, International Development Professional in Nutrition, in India, broken supply chains and transport problems, especially during pandemic lockdowns, have prevented surplus grain stocks from reaching all those in need. He said that better nutrition intake is critical, especially for young children and mothers, and the most vulnerable community members.

Mr. Kar further said that the report has raised an important issue and has rightly called for mainstreaming nutrition-focused behavior change campaign to help people achieve healthy diets. He said,

With learnings from the pandemic, I would suggest that each country should adopt Nutritional Self- Reliance approach. Greater emphasis is needed on creating an enabling environment for providing a nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diet for all. This will include enhancing food, water, sanitation, hygiene, health, and education.

Mr. Kar recommended that the governments in India should focus on promoting locally produced food and strengthen local social security systems.

Also Read: Coronavirus Found In Ice Cream Samples In China, Can The Virus Spread Through Food? Experts Explain

Here are some of the other major findings of the report:

– More than 35.1 crore people in the Asia-Pacific region, which is over half of the global total (68.8 crore), are going hungry as the coronavirus pandemic destroys jobs and pushes food prices higher. Over the longer term, food insecurity had been improving before the pandemic hit.

– It is difficult for 190 crore people to afford a healthy diet. This is because the cost of a healthy and nutritious diet in the country is about two to nine times the cost of a basic energy sufficient diet in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the FAO, food prices rose to their highest level in nearly six years in November in this region. Because of the high prices, even though there is sufficient fruits and vegetable production across Asia, yet a majority of people in the region rely on food like rice and flour, that contain very little nutrients, as their main diet.

– At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF estimated a 30 per cent overall reduction in essential nutrition services coverage, reaching 75–100 per cent during the lockdown.

– By the end of 2020, 26.5 crore people in Asia and the Pacific region were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity which means these people ran out of food and had to live without it for days.

– Almost half of all children below five years of age in the Aisa-Pacific region are not growing well. While nearly 7.4 crore children in the region are too short (stunted), 3.1 crore are too thin (wasted) for their age. South Aisa has the largest share in this with nearly 5.6 crore children in South Asia stunted, 2.5 crore are wasted.

– When it comes to Anaemia among children of age below 5 years and women of reproductive age, Southern Asia has the highest prevalence, at 49 per cent, with Pakistan, India, Maldives and Afghanistan having a prevalence of 40 per cent or higher.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: Everything You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Dry Runs

Why Nutrition Is Important In The Light Of COVID-19?

According to the report, nutrition is extremely important for a stronger immune system which helps in fighting diseases like COVID-19. It says,

Undernourished people have weaker immune systems, and may be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Poor health, including being overweight and or suffering from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, are strongly linked to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.

The report highlights that because of the increase in inequalities caused by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, vulnerable population including the poor and homeless, people from minority communities, women, children, chronically ill and the senior citizens, are at a higher risk as they lack adequate access to food and nutrition. It says,

Both the COVID-19 and the effect of lockdowns particularly expose the most vulnerable populations, already affected by consequences of inequality, to risks. Good nutrition, individual and community nutrition, and food security are critical for a defense against the virus. It is essential that COVID-19 responses actively include the most vulnerable populations for their protection.

Global Targets Related To Food And Nutrition That The Countries Are Striving To Achieve

Sustainable Development Goals Targets 2030:

• Target 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

• Target 2.2: By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.

World Health Assembly Targets 2025:

• Stunting: 40 per cent reduction in the number of children under 5 years of age who are stunted

• Wasting: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5 per cent

• Breastfeeding: Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50 per cent

• Anaemia: 50 per cent reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age

• Low birthweight: 30 per cent reduction in low birth weight

• Childhood overweight: No increase in childhood overweight

Also Read: A Scoring System To Ensure High Risk Individuals Get Immunised First, Says AIIMS Director As India Approve COVID-19 Vaccines For Emergency Use

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 23,96,06,768 and 48,82,051 have died; 20,13,42,617 are active cases and 3,33,82,100 have recovered as on October 15, 2021 at 4:15 am.


3,40,37,592 16,862Cases
3,33,82,100 19,391Recovered
4,51,814 379Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,37,592 confirmed cases including 4,51,814 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,03,678 and 3,33,82,100 have recovered as on October 15, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

65,86,280 2,384

33,157 6

64,13,418 2,343

1,39,705 35


48,29,944 9,246

96,421 1,802

47,06,856 10,952

26,667 96


29,82,399 310

9,607 43

29,34,870 347

37,922 6

Tamil Nadu

26,83,396 1,259

15,451 199

26,32,092 1,438

35,853 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,59,122 540

6,588 27

20,38,248 557

14,286 10

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,008 12

135 4

16,86,976 16


West Bengal

15,79,012 530

7,576 81

15,52,491 601

18,945 10


14,39,311 28

337 1

14,13,885 29



10,33,809 521

4,890 38

10,20,645 477

8,274 6


10,05,614 16

203 4

9,91,841 20



9,54,382 8

42 6

9,45,386 2



8,26,244 34

215 20

8,15,943 14


Madhya Pradesh

7,92,669 12

111 1

7,82,035 11



7,71,035 16

105 158


10,049 174


7,26,016 8

42 6

7,16,313 2



6,68,618 168

4,171 40

6,60,512 207

3,935 1


6,05,847 207

3,646 157

5,96,263 362

5,938 2


6,01,971 33

234 11

5,85,199 16

16,538 6


3,48,406 11

130 4

3,43,141 7



3,43,729 28

175 22

3,36,157 6


Jammu And Kashmir

3,30,834 93

935 11

3,25,473 104


Himachal Pradesh

2,21,113 182

1,387 5

2,16,011 173

3,715 4


1,77,356 68

679 27

1,73,342 39

3,335 2


1,27,259 49

647 4

1,24,763 53



1,22,432 69

1,444 15

1,19,099 84



1,10,719 901

13,601 435

96,744 1,332

374 4


84,295 4

110 8

83,369 12



82,734 87

892 31

80,411 115

1,431 3


65,295 10

32 5

64,443 15


Arunachal Pradesh

54,958 4

202 22

54,476 26



31,722 6

224 1

31,108 7



31,516 9

230 8

30,613 17



20,867 6

44 2

20,615 4


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


3 1

10,668 1




2 0



Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,640 3

10 1

7,501 2


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