About 21% of children under the age of 5 are malnourished in India. In the period 1998–2002, child malnutrition in India was 17.1%, which increased to 21% from 2012 to 2016. It is quite up to the scale of the world. According to a report, for the last 25 years, India has not paid attention to this data nor has any significant progress towards correcting this situation. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017 includes Djibouti, Sri Lanka, and South Sudan, where there is more than 20% of child malnutrition figures. Malnutrition is also one of the 4 major parameters of this index.
Malnourished children become infected with fatal infection
Figures show that the result of nutrition deficiency is the result of child malnutrition and such children are prone to infection. Their weight starts decreasing rapidly and they take a lot of time to recover. Dr. K.K. Agarwal, Chairman, Indian Medical Association (IMA) said, “One of the types of malnutrition is that such children are small in proportion to their length. The weight of a healthy baby should generally increase 2–3 kg each year. The problem is considered to be serious when the weight and height of a child are less than the ideal measurement accepted all over the world. Weight loss and stunting are two different problems that occur in such children. Children with severe malnutrition take a lot of time to learn something new. They have less intellectual development. They have difficulty in doing mental work and face digestive problems.”
Some symptoms of malnutrition:
- Lack of body fat
- Difficulty in breathing
- Low body temperature
- Vulnerable immunity
- Sensitive skin
- It takes more time to heal
- Muscle weakness
- Fatigue and irritability
One thing that should be emphasized in the prevention of malnutrition is the healthy and balanced diet. There are four major food groups, which should be included in the diet of children. These include roti, rice, potato and other starchy foods are the main part of the food. They give us energy and carbohydrate provides calories for digestion.
The second group comprises of milk and dairy foods that are important sources of fat and genuine sugar.
The third group includes fruits and vegetables that should be consumed more. Digestion gets better. These are also important sources of vitamins and minerals. Fiber should also be consumed simultaneously.
And fourth group consists of meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy proteins form the body and assist in the functions of many enzymes.
During pregnancy, the mother should be given adequate nutrition and breastfeeding should be more emphasized.