Child Malnutrition

  • IASbaba
  • June 16, 2022
  • 0
Social Issues
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  • Malnutrition, in all its forms, includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight), obesity, and resulting diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad groups of conditions:

  • Undernutrition, which includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age)
  • Micronutrient-related malnutrition, which includes micronutrient deficiencies or micronutrient excess; and
  • Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers).

Malnutrition is a chronic problem and a longstanding challenge for the public administration of India.


  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shown marginal improvement in different nutrition indicators, indicating that the pace of progress is slow.
  • While there was some reduction in stunting rates (35.5% from 38.4% in NFHS-4) 13 States or Union Territories have seen an increase in stunted children since NFHS-4
  • The NFHS-5 survey indicates that more than 57% of women (15-49 years) and over 67% children (six-59 months) suffer from anaemia.
  • Developing countries lose up to 4.05% in GDP per annum due to iron deficiency anaemia; India loses up to 1.18% of GDP annually.


  • Monoculture agricultural practices: Though India has achieved food security, it has not sufficiently addressed the issue of malnutrition.
  • These intensive monoculture agricultural practices can perpetuate the food and nutrition security problem by degrading the quality of land, water and the food derived through them.
  • Changing food patterns: Food consumption patterns have changed substantially in India over the past few decades, which has resulted in the disappearance of many nutritious local foods, for example, millets.
  • Poverty: It affects the availability of adequate amounts of nutritious food for the most vulnerable populations.
  • Lack of sanitation and clean drinking water: poor sanitation, and dangerous hygiene practices increase vulnerability to infectious and water-borne diseases
  • Gender injustice: There is a correlation between gender discrimination and poor nutrition.
  • Malnourished girls become malnourished adolescents who marry early and have children who become malnourished, and so the cycle continues.
  • Inappropriate policies and lax implementation – policies are designed based on real-time data

Measures Taken to Tackle Malnutrition

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

  • It provides a package of six services namely supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition & health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services.

National Health Mission (NHM)

  • The main programmatic components include health system strengthening in rural and urban areas for – Reproductive-Maternal- Neonatal-Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A), and Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases.

Mid Day Meal Scheme

  • It provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrols and attends the school shall be provided with a hot cooked meal, free of charge every day except on school holidays.

Poshan Abhiyan

  • It was approved in 2017.
  • It is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure the attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.

Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY)

  • The scheme aims to contribute to a better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers.

Way forward

Financial commitment

  • Increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life.
  • Saksham Anganwadi and the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) 2.0 programme have seen only a marginal increase in budgetary allocation

Outcome-oriented approach

  • Strict monitoring and interventions by parliamentarians in their constituencies
  • Direct engagement with nutritionally vulnerable groups and contribute toward ensuring last-mile delivery of key nutrition services and interventions.


  • Public Distribution System should be diversified, to include millets

Source: The Hindu

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