About 2.6% of India’s 5.6 crore children are severely malnourished. Smriti Irani, Women and Child Development Minister, revealed this concerning statistic during the Rajya Sabha question-answer session. Apart from this, the government’s ‘Poshan Tracker’ report for February 2023 further strengthened the present situation, confirming that 14,56,000 children in India are malnourished.
According to an official Indian government report, about 7.7% of all children are continuing to suffer from severe malnutrition, equating to roughly 43 lakhs, which is an alarming figure.
A major global health issue that millions of people face is nutritional deficiency. According to the World Health Organization, over 2 billion people suffer from deficiencies in key nutrients like iron, vitamin A, and iodine.
These deficiencies lead to a range of debilitating health issues, including anaemia, impaired growth, and weakened immune systems. Nutritional deficiency occurs when the body does not receive enough nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
Despite consuming balanced foods like fruits, vegetables, cereals, and millet, some individuals may still be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Common deficiencies include vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron deficiency.
Given this situation, several measures can be prescribed. Dietician Indrani Ghosh says, “To overcome this issue, it is important to ensure proper absorption of vitamin D and calcium from the start of life.”
According to Dietician Indrani Ghosh, Manipal Hospital Salt Lake, Kolkata sunlight and other natural factors can provide vitamin D, but not everyone spends enough time in the sun. Calcium is essential for preventing osteoporosis. “Ensuring an adequate calcium intake through diet or supplements is essential for overall health and well-being.” Dietician Indrani Ghosh recommends that calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, and curds be consumed starting at an early age.
In tropical countries, many people consume millet, leading to food inability to provide all the necessary nutrition. Citing this example, Mrs. Ghosh says, “As children are overburdened with their work, they do not have time to play outside. It reduces the scope for getting Vitamin D consumed straightway from nature. So, the younger generations often lack this mineral.” So, children must play outside and explore their hobbies.
In this connection, it is important to maintain a balanced diet despite a busy life, especially for children who spend a lot of time sitting still and using computers for a long period. “Changing one’s lifestyle including physical exercise and outdoor play can help one satisfy their dietary needs.” So, the younger generation has to be more particular in their eating habits – drinking more water and eating less canned and processed food. The speaker emphasised that “We should increase our intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, greens, and other fruits.”
Manipal Hospital, Salt Lake, Kolkata, also celebrated National Nutritional Month to inform people about what is affordable nutrition available in day-to-day life. The theme aimed at consciously creating awareness among people for mobilizing them into nutrition–driven life. ‘Affordable nutrition for everybody’ is a mission. Activities including quizzes, puzzles, scrabbles, and decorations in the hospital café was organized to celebrate this mission.
Global health crisis due to malnutrition requires reasonable access to nutritious food, education on nutrition, and support for solving root causes to save lives and improve future well-being.
Shared By: Dietician Indrani Ghosh,
Manipal Hospital Salt Lake