malnourishment in India

How severe is malnourishment in India?

As per NFHS – 4 [2015 – 16] the percentage of stunted children below 9 years and underweight are 38.4% to 35.2% respectively. It is the sign of chronic under nutrition, which if not addressed can become a health emergency in India.

Impact of malnourishment –

  • High IMR
  • Low weight birth
  • Anaemic mothers
  • Poor learning ability
  • Prone to disasters
  • Wastage of the demographic dividend


Despite programmes like ICDS, Midday meal scheme, National nutrition mission, the performance has been unsatisfactory. This can be analyzed as follows –

  • The study by the University of East Asia – poor income and literate households suffer from malnutrition the most. E.g. Literates are abysmal in UP, Bihar.
  • 53% of Indian women are anaemic. When they give birth, they cannot effectively breastfeed have causing malnourishment for the newborn.
  • Oversize of the family leads to the availability of food per person.
  • Due to school dropouts, children often cannot avail the mid-day meal schemes.
  •    4.1.  Also, the changed proposed in a minimum of WCP to make food by mixing packaged ingredients was not adopted.
  •    4.2. The practice could stem adulteration and ensure nutrition quality.
  •    4.3 Religious customs inhibit the consumption of wholesome food like the egg in them.
  • Lack of sanitation, immunization, exposer to polluted water – leads to disease.
  •    5.1. Increases out of the pocket expenditure
  •    5.2. Ultimately purchasing capacity for food drylines.
  • The labours often get fingers mismatched at PDS shops, or non-availability of Aadhaar etc. leads to non-consumption of essential foods.

However, India has reduced the stunting rate from 48% in 2006 to 38.4% now.

This can be supplemented with a multi-pronged approach. Food fortification is one of them.


  • It facilitates the convergence of various nutrition programs having different features into one.
  • It fills the vacuum of essential vitamins like Vitamin A and other minerals important for the growth of the body.
  • Increasing the protein content can stimulate growth.
  • It should be complemented by hot cooked meals which are considered more nutritious.
  • It will improve the immunity levels to communicable diseases.

The national nutrition mission 2017 aims to cover different programs into one. It also aims to reduce stunting by 3% until 2023.

The initiative should be supported by the socio-behavioural change to bring improvement in literacy, income level, and better sanitation. This will help to address the menace of malnourishment in the long run.

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