Malnourished children in India risk being poor students!

By ZRG | Last Updated: Jun 06, 2013, 19:13 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

A new global study featuring India among other nations has apprehended that malnourished children fared poorly at studies.

This study has huge bearing for India as about 40 per cent of its children are malnourished.

The Save the Children’s ‘Food for Thought2013’ report found that chronically malnourished children are 20 per cent less literate than those with a healthier diet, and less able to read or write a simple sentence, and score lower on math’s tests.

The findings of the Save the Children report were based on research on 7,300 children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. The report found a connection between nutrition levels and ability to read and write. Children brains can be permanently damaged if proper nutrition is not received, the study concluded. There, however, is no specific profile of children available as part of the study.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) - Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) survey on malnutrition levels earlier this year pegged the malnutrition levels in India at 41.16 percent.

Confirming the grave risk to children in India, Dr. Anuj Sawhney, consultant, neonatology at Fortis La femme, in Delhi, says, “Malnourished children can have impaired brain growth due to which the child may have abnormal mental functioning. Developmental milestones of the child may also get delayed in severe malnutrition.”

The ‘Save the Children’ report says that stunted children are 12.5 percent more likely to make a mistake writing a simple sentence and seven percent are worse in answering simple math’s questions like `What are eight minus three’, than they would have been expected to do had they not been stunted.

“Malnourishment affects the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) level in children which hinders their overall growth,” laments Dr. Ashish Gupta, senior consultant, pediatrics at Rockland Hospital.

Malnutrition is also an underlying cause of 2.3 million children deaths a year, and for millions more children it contributes to failures in cognitive and educational development.

The global report also confirms that children who are malnourished go on to earn 20 percent less as adults than the children who are well nourished. Every year nearly 1.69 million children under five years of age die in India. Of these deaths, more than half take place in the first month of a child`s life.

Suggesting measures to overcome the appalling condition of nutrition levels in children in India, Dr. Gupta at Rockland Hospital says, “The government has started many programmes to address the situation but they are not being effectively implemented on the ground level. It’s high time that these programmes should be effectively monitored.”

“Also lack of awareness among the people regarding nutrient rich diet further contributes to the worrisome situation,” adds Dr. Gupta at Rockland Hospital.ends