At least one in three (31.1%) youngsters in the age group of five to 18 years in Madhya Pradesh is undernourished, a recently released report under the annual health survey (AHS) reveals.
The Clinical, Anthropometric and Biochemical (CAB) survey for 2014 shows that undernutrition, in context of body mass index (weight for height), is common among youngsters (between 5-18 years) in the state with at least 16.4% severely undernourished.
The state, however, fares better when compared to the other major empowered action group states (with socio-demographic backwardness) like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Bihar.
According to experts, poor nutritional condition of youngsters is major concern, especially as it can hamper both their biological and economical productiveness and in turn affect the health of the future generations. “It is all about the generation that is poised to be future of the state and country. If one child among three is not up to the mark nutritionally, we cannot speak much about achieving big development goals,” says right to food activist Sachin Jain.
The survey shows that more boys (33.6%) are undernutritioned in the state, as compared to girls (28.4%) in 5-18 age group. This, activists feel, is due to the absence of targeted nutritional intervention for boys over six years of age, except for the mid-day meal scheme for school going children up to 14 years.
“Overall poor nutrition among young people hints at the problems with food behaviour apart from economic depravity. This is why we call for focus on complete household food and nutrition security, which is not possible without convergent institutionalised action on (the) part of (the) government,” Jain said.
Talking to HT, commissioner of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) says her department caters to the nutritional needs of children below six years and adolescent girls (11-18 years) who are out of school. “Other kids are taken care of under the mid-day meal scheme,” she said.