Prelims level : Governance- Rights Issues, Social Issues, Health Mains level : GS-II- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. GS-II- Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
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Why in News?

  • The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey released by the government recently has highlighted the glaring contrast existing in nutritional level between rural and urban areas.

About the Survey:

  • The MoHFW along with UNICEF has conducted a comprehensive survey to assess the nutritional status of more than 115,000 children and adolescents (aged 0-19 yr) in all States of India. The main objective of this survey is to report the micronutrient deficiencies, overnutrition and nutritional risk factors for non-communicable diseases among the above-mentioned age group in India.

Gist of the Report:

  • Malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding, higher prevalence of iron and Vitamin D deficiency as well as obesity due to long commute by working mothers, prosperity and lifestyle patterns.
  • Rural parts of the country see higher percentage of children suffering from stunting, underweight and wasting and lower consumption of milk products.

Major Highlights of the Report:

1.Breastfeeding: The report shows that 83% of children between 12 and 15 months continued to be breastfed, a higher proportion of children in this age group residing in rural areas are breastfed (85%) compared to children in urban areas (76%).

  • Breastfeeding is inversely proportional to household wealth and other factors influencing this trend may include working mothers who have to travel long distances to reach their workplace.

2.Diversity in Food: It also noted that rural children receive meals more frequently in a day at 44% as compared to 37% of urban children. However, a higher proportion of children residing in urban areas are fed an adequately diverse diet as compared to those in rural areas.

3.Iron Deficiency: Children and adolescents residing in urban areas also have a higher (40.6%) prevalence of iron deficiency compared to their rural counterparts (29%).

4.Obesity: Children in urban areas are also overweight and obese as indicated by subscapular skinfold thickness (SSFT) for their age. While 14.5% of children in the age group of 5 to 9 years in cities had higher SSFT than 5.3% in rural areas, 10.4% of adolescents surveyed in urban areas in the age group of 10-19 had higher SSFT than 4.3% in rural areas.

5.Vitamin D Deficiency: Wealthier households in urban areas and sedentary lifestyle of children may also be responsible for higher deficiency of Vitamin D in urban areas (19%) as compared to rural areas (12%), though the study shows that 74% of children living in cities consume dairy products as compared to 58% in Rural Areas.

6.Zinc Deficiency: Rural children lag in intake of zinc which causes diarrhoea, growth retardation, loss of appetite and impaired immune function. Among children aged 1-4 years, zinc deficiency is more common in rural areas (20%) compared to urban areas (16%).

7.Stunting and Malnutrition: Rural areas also witness higher prevalence of stunting (37% in rural versus 27% in urban), underweight (36% in rural versus 26% in urban) and severe acute malnutrition.

Government Interventions with respect to Malnutrition:

  • POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission)
  • Anganwadi Services
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY),
  • Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG)
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)
  • National Health Mission (NHM)
  • Swachh-Bharat Mission
  • Public Distribution System (PDS)
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