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Addressing Malnutrition: Strengthening Government Initiatives

  • Published
    29th Jan, 2024

Context:  The two-way relationship between nutritional deficiencies and disorders necessitates the need for effective government interventions to combat malnutrition.

  1. Challenges in Malnutrition Tackling Programs:

- Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB): A major government initiative addressing iron deficiency through the administration of iron and folic acid (IFA) tablets faces challenges in implementation.

- Mid-day Meal Scheme: Another targeted measure for school children faces obstacles in ensuring effective execution. Utilizing community radio, videos, door-to-door outreach, and vernacular languages to enhance understanding, dispel misconceptions, and build trust.

- Challenges in Acceptance: Misgivings about the appearance and texture of fortified foods, e.g., fortified rice kernels, necessitate intensive Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaigns. Beneficiaries need to be informed about stringent fortification standards, addressing concerns about iron toxicity.

  1. Role of Diet in Malnutrition:

- Historical Dietary Norms: Traditional diets comprised a balanced mix of cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and dairy, promoting overall health.

- Shifting Dietary Patterns: Modern diets are characterized by processed and sugar-laden foods, leading to caloric density but nutritional deficiency.

- Public Responsibility: Urges individuals to reduce processed food consumption for better health outcomes.

  1. Access to Balanced Diets in South Asia:

- FAO Data and Indian scenario: Approximately 46% of South Asia's population lacks access to an affordable balanced diet. Around 74% of India's population cannot afford a healthy diet, with 39% falling short of nutrient-adequate intake.

- Government Interventions: Large-Scale Food Fortification (LSFF) initiatives are timely to enhance ongoing efforts at individual and community levels.

- Importance of Food Fortification: Adoption of iodized salt under the National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme in 1992 significantly reduced goitre rates. India's food fortification program includes adding micronutrients to staples like wheat flour, rice, edible oils, and salt.

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