POINT IAS

Nutrition

Important Excerpts from The Hindu articles:

  • National Nutrition Mission
  • September, 2019 is being observed as ‘Poshan Maah’ (nutrition month) across the country to ensure mobilisation at the grassroots level to achieve the targets laid down under the ‘Poshan Abhiyaan’ or the National Nutrition Mission (NNM). Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, the programme aims to reduce levels of underweight, stunting, low-birth weight as well as anaemia by 2022.
  • The Jan Andolan [people’s movement] is very vibrant, which is important because it is ultimately about behaviour change.
  • Focus on the holistic interventions to ensure optimum care.
  • Convergence among different Ministries.
  • The role of technology through mobile phones and tablets given to anganwadi workers, which is a multipurpose tool effective for behaviour change, education, managing care and collecting data. The Integrated Child Development Scheme-Common Application Software (ICDS-CAS) is the biggest-ever IT-driven public health programme in the world.
  • Accelerate these efforts as well as focus on care of small babies, or undernourished babies. These children account for 25%-30% of children in poor households.
  • Main pillars of Poshan Abhiyaan – There is an interplay of three broad themes of which nutrition intake is only 50% of the story. There is low birth weight among newborns due to poor maternal health, which accounts for 25% of the problem; illnesses among children such as diarrhoea are are responsible for 25%-30% of undernutrition.
  • When we look at undernutrition like this, we look at what needs to be done holistically: maternal health, childhood illnesses and optimum amount of feeding — breastfeeding, complimentary feeding and food adequacy. Only 10% of children get adequate nutrition in our country.
  • There are also socio-cultural determinants which form an outer circle, including maternal literacy, women empowerment, and prevention of child marriage.
  • Periodic review is necessary.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence to map how various cohorts of small children are doing over a period of time, what is the coverage, and why are some districts lagging behind and then making required interventions.
  • The Maternity Benefit Programme, or the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, is also linked to nutritional outcomes of children. Benefiting the mother of the first-born is in the design of the scheme.
  • With the introduction of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the mid-day meal scheme, there has been an increase in the number of children enrolling in schools. But new research says that Indian children are not able to perform well in their studies due to widespread food insecurity at home.
  • Increased budget allocation and effective implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services programme would be also welcome. Also, the nutritional value needs to be enhanced. Community kitchens for provisioning free food for needy populations are another initiative worth considering in this regard, which could be provisioned and run through local bodies.
  • The researchers add that experiencing food insecurity at home during childhood can affect India’s economy through lower human capital accumulation.
  • Countries with better-educated workforces are more capable of innovating and grow at a faster pace than countries with lower human capital stock.
  • Regular surveys that measure food insecurity among households with children across the whole of India are needed, as this will allow for tracking the state of household food insecurity over time and devise locally-appropriate remedial measures.
  • Coexistence of obesity and undernutrition, among school going children. Nearly 10% of children in the age group of 5-9 years and adolescents in the age group of 10-19 years are pre-diabetic, 5% are overweight and another 5% suffer from blood pressure. The study showed that the government will have to focus on obesity alongside undernutrition as part of its Nutrition Mission.
  • Malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding, higher prevalence of iron and Vitamin D deficiency as well as obesity due to long commute by working mothers, prosperity and lifestyle patterns, while rural parts of the country see higher percentage of children suffering from stunting, underweight and wasting and lower consumption of milk products — these are among the findings of the first-ever national nutrition survey conducted by the government.
  • A higher proportion of children in the age group of 12-15 months residing in rural areas are breastfed (85%) compared to children in urban areas (76%). Breastfeeding is inversely proportional to household wealth and other factors influencing this trend may include working mothers who have to travel long distances to reach their workplace.
  • Children in urban areas are also overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age.
  • A strategy to deal with problems unique to children living in cities as well as factors hampering implementation of government programmes is necessary.
  • Indian children are facing the double burden of malnutrition and rising risk of non-communicable diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic kidney disease and hypertension, the findings of the Health Ministry’s recently released Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016-18 show. The report presents data on the shifting conditions of both undernutrition and overweight, obesity among Indian children from 0-19 years.

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