More than half the students from three city-based private schools are malnourished, says a study conducted by Preventive and Social medicine (PSM) department of Sion Hospital.
Of the 975 students, 484 students were found to be stunted and underweight — both physical indicators of malnourishment as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study surveyed students between the ages of five and 15 years from two schools located in Sion and one in Bandra.
Of the 213 students found stunted, 52% were boys while 48% were girls. However, 52% of the 271 underweight students were girls as compared to boys (48%).
Long-term deprivation of nutritious food results in stunting, while underweight is a result of recent malnutrition, said doctors. “A balanced diet is not a priority among parents who feed their children with fast food,” said Dr Vijaykumar Singh, additional professor who conducted the study.
However, 90% students said they ate breakfast regularly. “But it consisted of a slice of bread and tea, which is not nutritious,” said Dr Smita Chavan, assistant professor from PSM department.
While 32.8% children ate junk food twice a week, the study revealed that consumption of vegetables, fruits and sprouts among most children was low. Around 16.6% consumed vegetables and fruits twice a week, while 28.8 % ate them throughout the week.
Chief dietician Dr Eileen Canday, Breach Candy Hospital, said calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin A play an important role. “Working parents find it easier to give children money to buy canteen food instead of cooking,” said Canday.