More than 90% of girls of classes 6 to 12 in nine schools of Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas are underweight, a survey has found, a phenomenon experts attribute to an acute gender bias prevalent in the state.
The survey was carried out in 2014 by Science Centre, Gwalior, along with the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) under a pilot project. The findings were compiled in February, 2015 and made public recently.
“The results of our survey were really shocking,” said Sandhya Verma, the state coordinator of Science Centre, adding that the organisation will conduct similar surveys in five more districts of the state including capital Bhopal.
She said the purpose of the survey was to find the health and nutrition levels of school-going adolescent girls.
“Our motive was to conduct the survey and later make the girls, school authorities as well as parents aware about the poor health and nutrition of adolescent girls,” Verma added.
She said the survey found girls whose haemoglobin levels were a mere five grams per deciliter, very low compared to the normal haemoglobin levels.
She said girls even fainted at least once in a week but neither their parents nor teachers were aware about the reason behind it.
Under the survey, weight, body mass index, haemoglobin, food habits, menstruation cycle and many other details related to them were collected and analysed.
The survey covered both rural as well as urban school going girls. It was also found that the nutrition level of rural girls was far better as compared to urban adolescent girls.
According to experts, in the rural areas girls have no option but eat homemade food but in urban areas girls prefer to have junk food.
Professor of Kalyan PG College, Durg DN Sharma -- who has worked in the field – said: “In the socio economic structure of our society, health and nutrition of females is mostly neglected. Not much importance is given to their health and food habits. This is the reason why two third of the pregnant women are anemic in our country.”
He said to reduce number of maternal and infant deaths in future it was important to emphasise on health and nutrition of adolescent girls.