Discuss the extent, causes, and implications of 'double burden of malnutrition' in India.

Published: September 23, 2017

The double burden of malnutrition refers to the dual burden of under- and over nutrition (leading to obesity) occurring simultaneously within a population. The data from the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that obesity among adults is nearly as big a problem in the country as under-nutrition. Even as under-nutrition continues to remain extraordinarily high in the poorer parts of the country, obesity has reached endemic levels in some of the richer parts of the country, the survey of over 6 lakh households conducted in 2015-16 shows.
Some of the causes of over nutrition and under nutrition in India are:

  • Lack of awareness as to what constitutes a balanced diet.
  • Growing of urbanization
  • Globalization leds to changing food habits mostly in cities which is one of the cause for over nutrition

The double malnutrition trap can be particularly dangerous for Asian economies such as India, where urban populations are rising. The World Bank estimated in 2005 that the annual cost of malnutrition to the world economy is approximately $80 billion, of which the direct cost to the Indian economy is around $10 billion, and the total costs, direct and indirect, at 2-3% of GDP. It would affect the working conditions of the people. Government would need to spend more on Health sector which may led to affect other welfare programs.

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