The State of the World’s Children report of UNICEF portrays a dismal picture of India. Elaborate

Published: October 17, 2019

UNICEF has released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019. This is the first UNICEF report on child nutrition in the last 20 years. The report comes on the heels of the Global Hunger Index report.

Findings of the Report: Where does India stand

  • One in three children under the age of five years .i.e. around 200 million children worldwide are either undernourished or overweight whereas in India every second child is affected by some form of malnutrition.
  • About 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, about 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.
  • India fares poorly and has performed worst (54%) on the prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight. Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow at 49% and 46%, respectively. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the better performing countries in the region, at 28% and 32%, respectively.
  • India has the highest burden of deaths among children under five per year, with over 8 lakh deaths in 2018. India was followed by Nigeria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 8.6 lakh, 4.09 lakh and 2.96 lakh deaths per year, respectively.

Poor Dietary Habits in India

In India, poverty, urbanisation, as well as climate change, are some of the factors that are driving poor diet. In India:

  • Only 61% of Indian children, adolescents and mothers consume dairy products at least once a week,
  • Only 40% of them consume fruit once a week.
  • One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states.
  • Every second woman in the country is anaemic, as are 40.5% of children.
  • One in ten children are pre-diabetic. Indian children are being diagnosed with adult diseases such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

The Indian diet has dramatically changed because of both globalisation and urbanisation. India is moving away from seasonal food as well as traditional food one hand and there is an increase in the consumption of processed food on the other. Obesity is also spiralling out of control in India.

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