New Delhi: Punjab and Haryana may be called the land of doodh and dahi (milk and curd), but when it comes to consumption, they fall behind their southern curd-loving brethren.
According to the National Dairy Development Board, Punjab, and Haryana have the highest per capita availability of milk. But a reading of the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that the south, on average, consumes more milk and curd than the north.
The NHFS survey for 2019-21 — the latest that was released May last year — says that in Haryana, about 77.4 per cent of men and 71.2 per cent of women consume milk or curd on a daily basis while 75.4 per cent men and 64 per cent of women do the same in Punjab.
In Rajasthan, the state with the third highest per capita availability of milk, about 68.5 per cent of men and 69 per cent of women are into milk and curd on a daily basis. The figures for Himachal Pradesh, another state where milk is available in abundance, is 63 per cent for both men and women.
Now compare these numbers with India’s southern states.
Tamil Nadu had the highest consumption of both, with 76.3 per cent of men and 80.1 per cent of women having either, or both, on a daily basis.
Likewise, figures for other southern states such as Andhra Pradesh (77.1 per cent men, 74.8 per cent women), and Karnataka (76.2 per cent men, 77.9 per cent women) show higher consumption of milk and curd than Haryana and even Punjab.
Only two states — Telangana (68.9 per cent men, 71.3 per cent women) and Kerala (62.5 per cent men, 59.4 per cent) — have fewer consumers of milk and curd than the northern states.
By comparison, both the eastern and the northeastern parts of India have fewer milk consumers. Less than half of Bihar’s men and women consume milk daily and about a quarter of the population in Jharkhand does so. In West Bengal, about 19 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women consume milk or curd on a daily basis.
On average, nearly half of India (48.8 per cent) consumes either milk or curd (or both) on a daily basis, the survey shows.
In the north — which, for the purpose of the survey, also includes the state of Uttarakhand and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir — 68.7 per cent of men and 63 per cent of women consume milk or curd every day.
This is compared to 72.2 per cent of men and 72.7 per cent of women in the south.
In addition, the NFHS data also showed that compared to the north, southern states also consumed more meat — chicken, mutton, and fish — as well as eggs.
However, Dr. Hemalatha. R, director of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), a Hyderabad-based affiliated with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), warned that the data was no measure of quantities consumed.
“The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) gives qualitative information on milk consumption,” she told ThePrint. “It can tell us whether the respondent has consumed milk or not, but not the quantity consumed.”
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Data shows that compared to the north, southern states not only consumed more meat, but they also had it more frequently. NFHS survey shows that over 90 per cent of people consume meat and eggs in the south as compared to around 50 per cent in the north.
In Tamil Nadu, about 80.4 per cent of women and 88.8 per cent of men ate eggs and 74.6 per cent of women and 96.1 per cent of men ate fish, chicken, or meat at least once a week.
In Kerala, a land known for its love for non-vegetarian food, more than 90 per cent of men and women ate fish, chicken, or meat, and 64.2 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men had eggs at least once a week.
The same trend is noticed in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, with at least three-fourths of the population of men and women having them at least once a week.
Among the southern states, meat or egg consumption is lowest in Karnataka, where about 57.5 per cent of women and 60.1 per cent of men ate fish, chicken, or meat, and 63.4 per cent of women and 66.4 per cent of men ate eggs at least once a week.
However, even Karnataka’s relatively low share of meat or egg eaters seems larger than its northern counterparts.
In Haryana, for instance, 80 per cent of women and 56 per cent of men never consume meat, chicken, or fish while 14.9 per cent of men and 6.3 per cent of women eat meat at least once a week.
Egg consumption is also the lowest in Haryana, where only 10.6 per cent of women and 26.3 per cent of men have it on a weekly basis.
Likewise, only 7 per cent of women and 19 per cent of men consume meat, fish, or chicken, and 13 per cent of women and about 29 per cent of men consume eggs at least once a week.
Is milk a good substitute for meat and eggs?
Studies have shown meat and eggs have high protein content, which means that, compared to vegetarian sources, there’s more protein for every 100 grams of meat eaten.
For instance, according to a 2017 report by NIN, a 100-gram serving of Rohu fish gives about 20 grams of protein — higher than 6-7 grams gained from a 200 ml glass of buffalo milk.
This means that in order to get the same amount of protein from milk, one would need to consume three glasses.
This also has an impact on calorie intake — every glass of milk has 107 kilocalories (kcal), which means that consuming an equivalent of 20 grams of protein would mean gaining 600-700 kcal.
For context, 100 grams of Rohu has a little over 102 kcal, according to the NIN report.
“Meat, eggs, and milk are great sources of quality protein,” Hemalatha told ThePrint. “To meet a 2,000 kcal a day diet, the ‘My plate for the Day’ recommended by our institute suggests that about 90 grams of pulses or legumes are to be included, a portion of which can be suitably replaced with meat/eggs/fish, etc.”
However, she said that the NFHS data, although showing a general pattern, didn’t give details of the quantity of food consumed and is not a solid indication of nutrition.
“There is a difference between ‘how many’ men and women are consuming milk or curd and ‘how much’ they are consuming, so these statistics don’t indicate the quantity consumed.”
(This is an updated version of the copy.)
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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