'Proper nutrition, environmental health can reduce stunting'

Good nutrition, proper health care and an adequate environmental quality can dramatically reduce stunting in Indian children, a World Bank report said Thursday.

IANS| Last Updated: Nov 13, 2014, 17:48 PM IST

New Delhi: Good nutrition, proper health care and an adequate environmental quality can dramatically reduce stunting in Indian children, a World Bank report said Thursday.

The report, Nutrition in India, shows that with adequate feeding, health care and environmental health the stunting rate in children, in the age group of 6 to 24 months, is half (23 percent) compared with those with no access to them in adequate measure (52 percent).

The report analysed data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2005-06 and the HUMGaMA Survey 2011.

The report found that states and districts with poor nutrition outcomes as well as rural areas show a similar trend.

For example, in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh the prevalence of stunting in children with adequate feeding, care and environmental health is 30 percent compared with 54 percent in those states who have none of these in adequate measure.

In 100 rural districts, surveyed by HUNGaMA 2011, the rate of stunting in districts, which possessed adequate feeding, care and sanitation facilities was 20 percent compared with 52 percent in districts where such amenities were inadequate.

"There is only a narrow window of opportunity from conception to two years of age to improve stunting. Height at age two is the best predictor of adult height", the report said.

The report reveals that even amongst the wealthiest Indians, that is the top third of the wealth distribution, only about 7 percent children between 6 and 24 months receive adequate feeding, health care and environmental health.

Effective interventions, which cover the three critical determinants, when provided at scale during the first 1,000 days of life, can reduce stunting and improve under-nutrition significantly," said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India.