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India lagging in reducing malnutrition

With about 60 mn underweight children, India is far behind other countries with similar economic growth, says the WB.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 12:51 IST

With about 60 million underweight children, India lagged far behind other countries with similar economic growth in reducing malnutrition, a World Bank report has said.

The report, 'India's Undernourished Children: A Call For Reform and Action' suggested that the Integrated Child Development Services Programme, an initiative in existence for the past three decades, address the problem of child malnutrition in the country and undergo significant changes.

The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world and is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa, the report said, adding that economic growth alone was unlikely to be sufficient to significantly lower the prevalence of malnutrition and meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of underweight children between 1990 and 2015.

Stating that approximately 60 million children were underweight in India, the report said that reductions in the prevalence of malnutrition over the last decade had been small - the prevalence of underweight children has only fallen from 53 per cent to 47 per cent between 1992-93 and 1998-99.

"In comparison, even Bangladesh scores higher in terms of reducing malnutrition, while China has made steep decline in malnutrition," Michele Gragnolati, senior economist and lead author of the report, said.

In 1998-99, almost three-quarters of Indian children under three years were below the normal weight for their age with 47 per cent underweight or severely underweight and another 26 per cent mildly underweight, the report said.