Eco boom alone can`t remove malnourishment: WB
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 05, 2009, 00:00

New Delhi: In a critical comment on India, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the World Bank said robust economic growth and food security alone would not remove the tag of being "one of the most malnourished".

"Whilst India celebrates its booming economy and GDP
growth, the country remains one of the most malnourished in
the world today," the multilateral lending agency said in a
study on undernourished children in South Asia.

India’s 2005 National Family Health Survey found 46 per
cent of children below three to be underweight and 38 per cent
stunted, with national aggregates masking wide disparities,
the bank said in the study.

"The survey findings highlight that neither economic
growth nor food security is likely to be sufficient to lower
the prevalence of malnutrition," the paper said.

Factors such as appropriate infant and young child
feeding, hygiene and sanitation, prevention and treatment of
illnesses and status of women are critical, it said.

Stating that the level of malnutrition in India is nearly
double that reported in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Bank said it
is unlikely that the United Nations` MDG (millennium
development goals) target of halving the incidence of
underweight by 2015 will be met.

Malnourishment rates are highest among scheduled tribes
and scheduled castes, with 54 per cent of them being stunted.

Child malnutrition in rural areas is also much higher (51 per
cent stunted and 46 per cent underweight), the World Bank

Citing the survey, it said that 60 per cent stunted
children was observed among the poorest-income quintiles and
50 per cent of children in the middle-income quintiles are

The main micro-nutrient deficiencies in India are iron
deficiency anemia (IDA), vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and iodine
deficiency disorders (IDD), the bank said, adding over 70 per
cent of pre-school children suffer from IDA.

"Low birth weight (LBW) is one of the key causes of
undernutrition in India, where about 30 per cent of the
children are born with LBW, and a phenomenon which is largely
irreversible," the study said.

LBW is largely due to poor maternal nutrition, it said.
Almost a third of the women in India have a body mass index
below normal and the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant
women is 59 per cent, it added.

With only about 45 per cent and 88 per cent of Indian
households having access to toilet facilities and safe
drinking water, respectively, unhygienic sanitation and unsafe
drinking water are important causes of child undernutrition.

Referring to the National Nutrition Policy and National
Plan of Action, it said, "These two initiatives have however,
remained largely on paper due to lack of resourcing and proper

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2009, 00:00

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