As per WHO “Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘undernutrition’-which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).”

Double burden of malnutrition is the coexistence of undernutrition and overnutrition or other non-communicable diseases related to overnutrition like diabetes, obesity, cardiac ailments in the society.

India even though being a developing country is facing the issue of overnutrition as well the problem of undernutrition, nutritional deficiencies and underweight both conditions that is overnutrition and undernutrition is posing a threat to public health.

As per Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016–18, school children are seen to be overweight and also suffering from nutritional deficiencies like anemia and diet-related non-communicable diseases(NCDs). This shows the paradigm of malnutrition is shifting to double burden in school going children. Key findings as per survey:

  • 14.4 million obese children in India 2nd highest in the world.
  • The cost of treating overweight or obese is equal to 4-9% of most countries GDP.
  • By 2030, global decline in productivity due to illness and death from NCDs will reach $35 trillion.
  • 35-40% of children in elite private schools are overweight and obese.
  • 5% of overweight Indian children, show early signs of diabetes, high cholesterol and other non-communicable diseases.
  • 30-69% of the population in India is anemic National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS 4), 2015-16

Underlying Cause of Overnutrition

  • Economic Growth and Urbanization: Owing to the economic growth, modernization and urbanization, obesity and other related non communicable diseases are on the rise. Availability of processed food at cheap and affordable rates increases their consumption.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Screen timing and sedentary lifestyle has led to reduced physical activity.
  • Eating disorders: Kids suffer from certain eating disorders like leptin insensitivity, where there is a loss of satiety sensation and kids tend to overeat.

5 Tips to keep your Child Healthy

  • Growth rate: Check for the growth rate of your child which means the ideal weight and ideal height as per child’s age.
  • RDA: It is important to know about the nutritional requirement of the child and pay utmost attention to the intake of food and avoid over consumption. An expert can help to know and understand the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance).
  • Physical activity: Make sure your Child is engaging in minimum 1 hour of physical activity daily.
  • Balanced Diet: Try to include a variety on the plate from different cereals, pulses, milk, curd, nuts, poultry, fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid processed foods: Avoid ready to eat and processed foods and switch to natural, homemade and local foods.

Thus an understanding of the child’s requirement and growth, adding variety, avoiding processed foods and regular physical activities can help to reduce the chances of malnutrition, overnutrition or undernutrition in children and hence ensuring a healthy present and future for the child.

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