New Delhi: India ranked 103 out of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2018. India slipped by three positions as compared to 100th rank in 2017. With a score of 31.3, India suffers from a level of hunger that is serious. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool that comprehensively measures and tracks hunger at global, regional, and national levels, while taking into account undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality. All the four parameters are directly related to lack of food and malnutrition, which was the leading cause of death and disability in India in 2017, states the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 prepared by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
Malnutrition, Its Types, And Causes
Malnutrition is a medical condition caused due to an unbalanced diet that is deficiencies, excesses or imbalance in a person’s intake of one or more vital nutrients. Malnutrition is broadly classified into two categories – undernutrition and obesity. Explaining the same, Dr. Arun Gupta, Central Coordinator, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India, says,
Mal means bad therefore malnutrition means bad nutrition. Earlier malnutrition implied undernutrition, but over the years the meaning has changed. It also includes obesity and being overweight.
1. Undernutrition: There are 4 broad sub-forms of undernutrition: wasting, stunting, underweight, and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Undernutrition makes children in particular much more vulnerable to disease and death. Dr. Arun Gupta says,
As a pediatrician, I believe the first year of a child is a critical period and it is essential to provide nutritious food which can aid in the growth of an individual. If a child gets diarrhoea within three months of birth, he/she is likely to lose 1 per cent of the weight. Diarrhoea along with weight loss increases the chances of malnutrition.
Also, lack of access and capability to afford nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and milk, makes children and adults undernourished. Once a child is undernourished and underweight, he/she is likely to remain undernourished.
2. Obesity: As and when a child grows and shifts from exclusive breastfeeding to semi solid food including cereal, fruits, pulses, for vitamins, calcium and protein, their sugar intake increases which raise the risk of obesity. Dr. Arun Gupta says,
Childhood obesity is on the rise in India and two major reasons behind this are high sugar intake and consumption of processed baby food. During the early years, junk food which is high in fat also comes into the picture and adds to the problem.
Since foods and drinks high in fat and sugar are cheaper and readily available, people from both poor and rich countries often resort to that which is leading to a rapid rise in the number of children and adults being overweight.
How Malnutrition Can Be Avoided
According to the experts, regular monitoring of the growth of a child can help in identifying malnutrition and taking immediate measures. Pediatrician is of the opinion that for the first six months, child’s growth should be monitored every month as in you need to note the increase in body weight and if a child doesn’t grow in a month, it is an alarm.
Nutrients rich diet plays an important role in the growth of an individual. Intake of appropriate amount of vitamins, calcium, iron, protein and other nutrients is essential.
The Status Of Malnutrition
Since 2000, the level of hunger in the world has decreased by 28 per cent, states the GHI 2018. Despite a decline, in 52 out of 119 countries, the hunger situation is serious to extremely alarming.
Around 1.9 billion adults worldwide were overweight, while 462 million were underweight in 2014, states the World Health Organization (WHO). An estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted.
As per the annual report of the Department of Health and Family Welfare 2017-18, malnutrition is a contributory factor in 45 per cent child deaths in India.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.