Hunger and Malnutrition
- According to NFHS-5 data, every second Indian Women is Anaemic, every third child is stunted and malnourished and every fifth child is wasted.
- According to FAO, Food Security Report for 2021, India ranks 101 out of 116 countries in Global Hunger Index 2021.
- According to Global Nutrition Report 2021, Stunting among children in India is significantly higher at 30% compared to Asian average of 21.8%.
- Of late, the low and middle income countries have pursued food fortification as one the strategies to tackle micronutrient malnutrition. Ex- Rice and Wheat are fortified with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12.
- Pilot project on the distribution of fortified rice in Maharashtra (Gadchiroli district) as part of targeted PDS was started. The programme has been a success in terms of preventing cases of anaemia from 58.9% to 29.5% in span of 2 years.
- In Gujarat, an eight month long study on multiple micronutrient fortified rice intervention for schoolchildren (6-12 years) in 2018-19, found increased haemoglobin concentration, 10% reduction in anaemia prevalence and improved cognitive scores (by 11.3%).
- According to WHO, Iron deficiency Anaemia is a major public health concern because it is responsible for 3.6% of disability adjusted life years (DALYs- years of life lost due to premature mortality and years lived with disability).
- However, activists have expressed concern that excess iron overload from fortified rice has been dangerous for Jharkhand’s tribal population suffering from anaemia and thalassaemia.
- Food fortification is a cost efficient complementary strategy to address micronutrient deficiencies.
What is Hunger?
According to FAO- “Hunger is an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by insufficient consumption of dietary energy. It becomes chronic when the person does not consume a sufficient amount of calories (dietary energy) on a regular basis”
How it can be measured?
Measurement- Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe release Global Hunger Index (GHI) that aims to compare Hunger among various countries. It comprises of four measures-
- Child mortality rate – share of children who die under 5 (1/3rd of GHI)
- Stunting – Low height for age under 5 (1/6th of GHI)
- Child Wasting- Low weight for height under 5 (1/6th of GHI)
- Undernourishment – share of the population whose caloric intake is Insufficient (1/3rd of GHI)
Where India Stands?
Position- India ranks 107 out of 121 countries (under “serious category”) on the Global Hunger Index 2022.
What objections has Indian Government raised?
- 3 out of the 4 variables used to calculate GHI are related to children under 5 and cannot be representative of the entire population
- 4th indicator of GHI, the proportion of undernourished population is “based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3000”
What are the benefits of food fortification?
- Helps in tackling Hidden Hunger (lack of micronutrients) and malnourishment.
- Rice and Wheat being staple crops provide wider reach
- Cost effective
- No change in visual appearance and taste of food
What are the issues with fortification?
- Hypervitaminosis (Very high storage of Vitamins) and Toxicity.
- Nutrients don’t work in isolation, they need each other.
- May benefit only few companies.
- Fast food could be sold as fortified food by food companies in future.
- Difficult to withdraw in future
(Credits- Food Fortification Resource Centre)
- Detailed studies on adverse effects.
- Focusing on dietary diversity in the long run.
NEWS- An Indian recipe to quell micronutrient malnutrition
Syllabus- Mains; GS-2; Hunger and Malnutrition