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2.5 crore Indian kids underweight due to malnutrition: Global report

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India also has the largest number (17 crores) of women in reproductive age affected by anaemia, followed by China (9 crores) and Pakistan (2.5 crores).

New Delhi: India has failed to show any progress in meeting the global target of arresting malnutrition among children below 5 years, resulting in wasting or extreme low weight, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2017.

Earlier reports revealed that 20 per cent of a total of 12.1 crore under-5 children were affected by wasting (low weight in relation to height) in 2006. This reduced to 15 per cent (1.8 crore) in 2014 before rising to 21 per cent (2.5 crore) in 2015. In 2015, the total population of under-5 kids in India was 12.3 crore.

Similarly, 7 per cent were affected by severe wasting in 2006. This figure dropped to 5 per cent in 2014 before increasing to 8 per cent in 2015, says the report that was unveiled at the Global Nutrition Summit in Milan Saturday.

Also, India has the largest number (17 crore) of women in reproductive age affected by anaemia, followed by China (9 crore) and Pakistan (2.5 crore). Even, the percentage of such women has increased from 48 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent in 2016 in India.

Illustration by Nandita Singh

The annual report tracks the progress made by each country as they achieve the targets set by the World Health Assembly (WHA). WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, which is a partner of the Global Nutrition Summit. The targets include stunting, anemia, low birth weight, childhood overweight, breastfeeding and wasting.

According to the Global Nutrition Profile 2017 (using data from 2016), 23 per cent of under-5 children across the world are affected by stunting (impaired growth), 8 per cent by wasting, 41 per cent by severe wasting and 6 per cent by overweight.

This year’s report shows Vitamin-A deficiency among India’s preschool-age children has reduced from 62 per cent (2001-2003) to 45 per cent in 2013.  India also shows improvement in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding of infants under 6 months, recording an increase from 46 per cent in 2005-06 to 65 per cent in 2013-14.

Overall, India shows some progress in meeting the global targets of under 5 stunting.

According to the latest nutrition report, across the world 2 billion people lack key micronutrients such as iron and Vitamin-A, 155 million children are stunted, 52 million children are wasted, 2 billion adults are overweight or obese, and 41 million children are overweight.

Out of the 140 countries studied, 72 countries face the burden of stunting, 125 in anemia, and 95 in overweight. A total of 29 countries face all the three forms of malnutrition – stunting, wasting and underweight — and 88 per cent of the countries for which data is available face a serious burden of either two or three forms of malnutrition.

This year’s report focuses on sustainable development goals (SDGs) and how investing in these goals can improve the nutritional outcomes. No poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation and climate action are few of the 17 SDGs adopted by 193 countries in 2015.

“We will not achieve any of the SDGs by the 2030 deadline unless there is a critical step change in our response to malnutrition in all its forms,” said Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s Independent Expert Group and director of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University London.

“Equally, we need action throughout the goals to tackle the many causes of malnutrition,” she added.

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