Some states of the country are celebrating the month of September as Nutrition Month. During this Nutrition Month, work will be done with special attention to the health and well-being of all the severely malnourished and partially malnourished children. There can be many reasons for malnutrition in younger class school students, i.e. not getting proper nutrition. Poverty is the main cause of malnutrition in all states. Children may develop malnutrition if they eat small amounts of food. The problem of malnutrition is not satisfactory in many states of the country. For example, Naxal problem is considered to be the biggest problem in Chhattisgarh because it is slowing down the pace of development. After this, the second biggest problem is considered to be malnutrition. Lakhs of children in the state are affected by this. Especially the children of tribal areas are mostly malnourished. At present, more than 17 percent of the children in the state fall in the category of malnutrition, whose number is in lakhs. Similarly, in the latest quarterly report of Child Health and Nutrition Mission in Madhya Pradesh, malnutrition has been found in about 78 thousand children. These are those children who reach Anganwadi every day. The report is for January, February and March 2023 and was released on June 2. Compared to the report of the previous quarter (October, November and December 2022), the number of severely malnourished children has increased in seven divisions including Bhopal. In the year 2021, 76.8 crore people of the world were found to be victims of malnutrition. Of these, 22.4 crore (29 percent) were Indians. This is more than one-fourth of the total number of undernourished people worldwide. As far as the country is concerned, India is the second largest food producing country in the world.
We rank first in the world in milk, pulses, rice, fish, vegetables and wheat production. Despite this, a large population of the country is suffering from malnutrition. According to the United Nations report ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022’, people’s struggle with hunger has increased rapidly after the Corona period of 2019. In the year 2021, 76.8 crore people of the world were found to be victims of malnutrition. Of these, 22.4 crore (29 percent) were Indians. This is more than one-fourth of the total number of undernourished people worldwide. Because of this, the burden of diseases on the country is very high. Government of India data on malnutrition shows that the malnutrition crisis in India has deepened. According to some data, currently more than 33 lakh children in India are malnourished. More than half of these, i.e. 17.7 lakh children, are severely malnourished. In some states of the country, a comprehensive campaign is being run to eradicate malnutrition through Suposhan Yojana. Under this scheme, hot meals are being provided to malnourished women, pregnant and infant mothers as well as children. An effort has been made to overcome the deficiency of vitamins and minerals in people’s daily diet by providing fortified rice and jaggery containing iron and vitamins in the ration. Along with this, arrangements have also been made to provide quality, nutritious ready-to-eat food based on local availability. Women and children are being given delicious nutritious food including fruits, vegetables, soya and peanut chikki, nutritious laddus, millets biscuits with eggs, etc. More efforts are needed in all states. Special efforts can be made in our schools to eliminate malnutrition. Parents should be given counseling on the issue of malnutrition in children to increase their understanding on ways to address malnutrition in children studying in schools so as to ensure that their children get a balanced and nutritious diet. Along with this, schools should plan to develop good eating habits in children. If administrative efforts in this direction are expedited, better results can be achieved. There is a need to bring effective versions of schemes like mid-day meal. Non-governmental organizations should cooperate with governments regarding malnutrition. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 has revealed some alarming facts. In this index, 117 countries have been ranked on the basis of hunger and India is at 102nd position. India’s ranking is lowest among BRICS countries. The GHI index is based on children under five years of age whose weight and height are less than the prescribed standards. There are enough facts which show that hunger has an impact on the educational system. Those whose brains are not able to develop properly, do not get proper basic education due to lack of proper basic structure and proper development of the brain.
A WHO report says that there are 155 million children under the age of five who are underweight for their height and 50 million children are stunted. Due to their condition and lack of adequate physical development, they are not able to study even for eight years. This is why food and education are interdependent and if not managed properly then it can become a challenge for the new India. If seen, malnutrition is not a disease that cannot be reduced. We just need to pay attention to this. There is a great need to protect school children from the adverse effects of junk food. Overall, the problem of malnutrition can be limited to a great extent by keeping in mind the kind of diet given to children keeping in mind their health, not only at the policy level but also in the family. Anyway, our education system has shortcomings and it is not focusing on what we should eat and in what quantity. Since our understanding and knowledge comes from books and lectures, courses related to food and health are the need of the hour.
Dr. Varindra Bhatia
Email: [email protected]