Nutrition Week: India’s fight against diet-related diseases

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By Express News Service

“There are three main aspects of the nutrition problem in India — malnutrition, hidden hunger, and diet-related non-communicable disease (NCD). India has 47M children who suffer from stunting (impaired growth and development) — this is one-third of the global burden. India is only second to China in diabetes, and if no preventive action is taken, we can beat China. Most of this can be managed through a healthy diet and physical activity,” said Dr A Laxmaiah, Head, Public Health Nutrition, National Institute of Nutrition-ICMR. Dr Laxmaiah was addressing a webinar organised by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council to mark the inauguration of the second edition of Bharat Nutrition Week on Wednesday.   

Laxmaiah added, “The government runs an NCD control programme in 100 districts across India, but that needs to be extended throughout. Also, availability, accessibility, and affordability matters need to be addressed. The PDS helps people access food but it provides only one type of food, which is reducing dietary diversification. We recommend the government provide a food basket through PDS.”  

Experts foresee that malnutrition may result in potential GDP losses of 2-3 per cent and may reduce lifetime earnings for each malnourished individual by over 10 per cent. Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council said, “When it comes to nutrition, there is a serious gap in understanding even among the educated and urban consumers. Only a handful are aware how to read nutrition labels or what the right dietary mix is for them. This conclave’s specialty nutrition sessions will focus on fighting diseases with food, while sessions under Healthy Khayega India will have home chefs share their recipes, and school children increase their nutrition awareness by taking the Bharat Poshan Premier Quiz.” 

On Day 2, a session on Nutrition and Health in First 1,000 days will highlight government initiatives, public-private partnerships, advance and accessible infrastructure, and advocacy missions of the foundation towards health during initial days. Day 3 has a webinar on Reducing and Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases Burden Through Food, followed by a session on Ayurveda and Indian Food Science that will bring light on ancient food practices to live healthy.

On Day 5, a session of Food Fortification and Packaging will focus on balancing macro and micro nutrients. The last two days will have sessions on Food Safety and Distribution in the times of Covid and Food Sustainability. 

Cause for worry 
Experts foresee that malnutrition may result in potential GDP losses of 2-3 per cent and may reduce lifetime earnings for each malnourished individual by over 10 per cent



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