New Delhi: Health experts Monday urged the government to put oil and fat rich products under the Public Distribution System (PDS) so that people belonging to the lower income groups get enough of such products to protect them from diseases caused by their deficiency.
The experts said that due to poor purchasing power, children in the lower income groups remain far behind the figure of 2,400 calories, the average number of calories required for a human every day.
"The low income group does not get even 50 percent of the daily, recommended dietary quantity of fats," said Umesh Kapil, additional professor at the Department of Human Nutrition at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
He was speaking to reporters at the inauguration of a National Symposium on Health and Dietary Fats at AIIMS.
In low income groups, a high percentage of families do not consume any type of fat in their diet due to a lack of resources, he added
"The children of such families are likely to suffer from deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A and D. There is a need for providing fats and oil to these families at an affordable cost through the Public Distribution System," he said.
A report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated that from 1985 to 2009 the percentage of fat intake among the tribal people has increased from just 8 gms to 10 gms and among the people in the rural areas from 14 gms to 16 gms, which is far behind the 110-120 gms consumed by the Europeans and Americans.
As per the Registrar General of India (RGI), in 2009 the estimated number of child deaths between the ages 0-4 years was about 15.85 lakh.
Pramod Khosla, professor from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the US-based Wayne State University said: "Indians in the low income groups need to increase fat consumption. The government should make a resolution that it will at every cost provide such citizens with fats, carbohydrate-rich products and oils through the schemes of the public distribution system".
"It is also important for the government to provide the most cost efficient oils so that it is not a burden for the government at any level," he added.
Umesh Kapil also announced that AIIMS would develop a network of institutions in the field of nutrition in the country.
Kalyan Sundaram, a researcher on various aspects of oil and fats processing technology said, "Indians should also overcome the myth that only expensive oils and fatty products are healthy".