Prelims Level
Mains Level
Prelims Syllabus : Indices & Reports Mains Syllabus : GS-II- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resource; Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Why in News?

  • UNICEF has released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019 recently. Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children.
  • For the first time in 20 years, UNICEF’s flagship report examines the issue of children, food and nutrition, providing a fresh perspective on a rapidly evolving challenge.

Key Highlights of the Report:

  • Around 200 million children under-five are either Undernourished or Overweight.
  • One-in-three globally – and almost two-thirds of children are not fed food that nurtures proper development.
  • The Flagship Report describes the “triple burden” of malnutrition: Undernutrition, overweight, and deficiencies in essential nutrients.
  • Stunting and wasting:149 million children are stunted, or too short for their age, 50 million children are wasted, or too thin for their height.
  • Breastfeeding has demonstrated it can supply a range of benefits, including lowering the likelihood of infant mortality, being overweight and obesity; and improving school performance. But it has to be noted that only 42 per cent of children under-six months of age are exclusively breastfed.
  • Lack of Micronutrients: 340 million children – or 1 in 2 – suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin A and iron, 40 million children are overweight or obese.
  • Overweight: The result in a young population globally which is chronically overweight, which has increased across every continent.

Status of India:

  • In India, every second child is affected by some form of malnutrition.
  • 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.
  • Stunting and wasting among children in the country has reduced by 3.7 per cent and the number of underweight children have reduced by 2.3 per cent from 2016 to 2018.
  • Among countries in South Asia, India fares the worst (54%) on prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight.
  • In India, poverty, urbanisation as well as climate change are some of the factors that are driving poor diet.
  • Only 61% Indian children, adolescents and mothers consume dairy products at least once a week, and only 40% of them consume fruit once a week.
  • One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states. Every second woman in the country is anaemic, as are 40.5% children.
  • One in ten children are pre-diabetic. Indian children are being diagnosed with adult diseases such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

The Report also Talks About:

  • Long term Impact: The lack of adequate nutrition increases youngsters’ vulnerability to health problems, namely poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased susceptibility to infections and in many cases, premature death.
  • Systems Approach: The agency’s “systems approach” highlights the role of food, health, water and sanitation, social protection and education, in better feeding the world’s youngsters.
  • Role of Government: The effort to address faults in the food system must involve governments, the private sector and civil society.

About UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund):

  • It is special program of UN devoted to aid national efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children.
  • It was established in 1946 to provide relief to children in countries devastated by World War II.
  • It is headquartered in New York City, United States.
  • It was formerly known as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
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