Malnourishment in India higher than in sub-Saharan Africa

The Indian economic growth has done little to bring any significant change in the area of children nourishment and the country is still notorious to have higher rates of malnourished children than in sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition remains an enormously pervasive across the States.

Although the official ICDS data compiled by the State government shows a significantly improved outlook by registering increase in the normal category of child nutrition from 48% in 2009-10 to 65% in 2012-13, an increase of 16.6% points over the four-year period, the same has not mirrored in the evaluation report on the ICDS, prepared by Program Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission (2011) which shows a great divergence b/w official statistics on nutritional status, registered beneficiaries and grass roots reality regarding core indicators. The study also revealed that ‘official statistics on nutritional status of children generated departmentally do not represent grass-roots reality.’

As per Report:

  • There are great variations in inter-state comparison of child malnutrition.
  • Only 18% of Bihar’s children come in the ‘normal’ category, against the all-India average of 65%.
  • Despite registering high growth, Bihar reports the highest proportion (26%) of “severely undernourished” children, the highest proportion (56%) of “mild to moderately” undernourished children and the lowest proportion (18 %) of children who fall in the “normal” category.
  • Surprisingly, only 53% of Delhi’s children fall in the ‘normal’ category — a score that is third from the bottom.
  • Andhra Pradesh, despite having a much higher per capita income, reports a higher proportion of “mild to moderately” undernourished children at 38% than Jharkhand (35%) and Rajasthan (34%).
  • Paradoxically, many high income States also report relatively high proportions of severely undernourished children. For example, the proportion of severely malnourished children in Haryana (5.2%) is much higher than inOdisha (3.7%).
  • Around 47% of Delhi’s children are “mild to moderately” undernourished despite being one of the richest States in terms of per capita income.

What these findings suggest?

These findings confirm that high income alone doesn’t guarantee that children are well nourished. A number of other factors like public provision of primary healthcare, water and sanitation, food security, demand for much greater attention. Moreover, high growth rates do not necessarily translate automatically into improvements of the nutritional status of children.



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