New Delhi, September 18 2019: All
is not well on nutrition front in the country. A new study has found
that while malnutrition continues to be the leading risk factor for deaths in
children under five and illness in persons of all ages considered together, the
problem of overweight among children is also rapidly increasing across the
The prevalence of the overweight
problem in children aged from 2 to 14 has increased significantly between 2010
and 2017 in two waves. The first wave, from 2000 to 2010 covered states with
high and medium state of socio-demographic indices and the second wave, from
2011 to 2017 engulfed the entire country, covering these states as well as states
with low socio-demographic indices.
The study has estimated that the
prevalence of child overweight problem was 11.5 per cent as of 2017. It has
projected that the number may rise to 17.5 per cent, which is 14.5 per cent
higher than the target of three per cent set by the World Health Organisation
(WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The study examined trends in the
burden of child and maternal malnutrition from 1990 to 2017. It found
that among various malnutrition indicators, low birth weight is the largest
contributor to child deaths, followed stunting, underweight and wasting.
The prevalence of low birth weight
was 21.4 percent in 2017 and it decreased moderately with increasing
socio-demographic index. The prevalence has come down since 1990, with a
relatively higher decline between 2010 and 2017. The prevalence of child
stunting and under-weight is declining but remains high at 39 percent and 36
percent in 2017. The study has also highlighted that the prevalence of anaemia
in India was “extremely” high at 60 percent in children and 54 percent in women
The study was conducted by Indian
Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India and Institute
for Health Metrics and Evaluation in collaboration with the Ministry of
Health and Family Welfare. It has been published in the Lancet Child and
Participating in a programme to
mark the release of the findings, Member, Niti Aayog, Prof. Vinod K. Paul, said
“state Governments are being encouraged
to intensify efforts to combat nutrition in keeping with their individual
requirements. Focus on improving the overall nutritional status of girls and
women during pre-conception and pregnancy, and provision of quality ante-natal
care will positively address the problem of low birth weight”.
ICMR Director General Prof. Balram
Bhargav, said ICMR’s Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition and other
partners are setting in place mechanisms to improve the availability of data
from states to provide for a better monitoring of the status of malnutrition in
By Sunderarajan Padmanabhan
(India Science Wire)
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