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India’s rising child malnutrition

Date: 23 December 2020 Tags: Reports & Indices

Issue

According to the World Health Organisation, over 8 lakh children under the age of five died in India due to issues related to malnutrition.

 

Background

For a country that already had the most number of malnourished children in the world, this is a scary picture. India cannot be a global superpower unless it first brings down the levels of child malnutrition.

 

Details

  • Malnutrition refers to when a person's diet does not provide enough nutrients or the right balance of nutrients for optimal health.

  • Causes of malnutrition include inappropriate dietary choices, a low income, difficulty obtaining food, and various physical and mental health conditions.

  • If a person does not get the right balance of nutrients, they can also have malnutrition. It is possible to have obesity with malnutrition.

  • When a person has too little food, a limited diet, or a condition that stops their body from obtaining the right balance of nutrients, it can have a severe impact on their health. In some cases, this can become life threatening.

Reasons for malnutrition

  • A low intake of food

Some people develop malnutrition because there is not enough food available or because they have difficulty eating or absorbing nutrients.

  • Social and mobility problems

There are actors that can affect a person’s eating habits and potentially lead to malnutrition, such as disability to move, limited cooking skills etc.

  • Digestive disorders and stomach conditions

If the body does not absorb nutrients efficiently, even a healthful diet may not prevent malnutrition.

Types of malnutrition

  • Wasting

Children are defined as wasted if their weight- to- height is way below the standard ratio set by WHO.

  • Stunting

Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is less than standard ratio.

  • Underweight

An underweight person is a person whose body weight is considered too low to be healthy. If a person is underweight, their body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to build healthy bones, skin, and hair.