Micronutrient deficiency needs to be tackled during childhood

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Parents and educational institutions alike should lead by example

New Delhi, 28 December 2018: As per a recent study by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), the diet of 62% of the urban population is micronutrient-inadequate. Despite achieving food sufficiency, countries like India suffer a massive burden of micronutrient deficiencies (hidden hunger). Micronutrient deficiencies affect more than two billion people globally and of these, one third reside in India.

Micronutrient deficiencies or deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, often referred to as hidden hunger mainly due to diets inadequate in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and millets, are not apparent but considered ubiquitous.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Malnourishment in India is usually spoken of as a problem of the underprivileged and those in the rural areas. However, malnutrition is not just restricted to that side. It can be increasingly linked to wealthier, urban populations. The irony is that this very population also faces the burden of rising obesity. This kind of malnutrition is known as micronutrient deficiency. It can affect even those with a normal weight. The primary reason for this deficiency is the availability of foods rich in carbs, sugars and fats, but lacking in vital vitamins and minerals. These are This is also aggravated by the fact that the consumption of junk food is increasing among educated, wealthier households in India. Although any individual can experience micronutrient deficiency, pregnant women and children are at greatest risk of developing deficiencies.”

NIN recommends consumption of 400 grams of fruit and vegetable per day for normal people, of which 100 grams should be fruit. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of micronutrients and egg, milk as well as flesh foods are also good sources.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Even home-cooked food can be deficient in nutrients. This is because we tend to cook and over-cook a lot of dishes as part of their preparation. Micronutrient deficiency is an issue that does not have an easy solution. The best way out is to get maximum nutrition from raw fruits and vegetables and forego a processed food diet.”

Schools can help in shaping the lives of students and have a very important role to play in the battle against nutritional deficiencies. Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Some helpful habits entail eating a healthy balanced diet. All the four major food groups including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and dairy should form a part of a child’s diet plan.