Stunted, wasted: on Global Nutrition
Mains Paper 1: Health
Prelims level: Global Nutrition Report
Mains level: Development processes and the development industry- the role of
NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional
and other stakeholders
- The health, longevity and well-being of Indians have improved
since Independence, and the high levels of economic growth over the past
two-and-half-decades have made more funds available to spend on the social
- The reality is that a third of the world’s stunted children under
five an estimated 46.6 million who have low height for age live in India.
- A quarter of the children display wasting (that is, low weight for
height) as well.
- As the Global Nutrition Report 2018 points out, this finding masks
the wide variation in stunting levels in different parts of the country.
- District-level data show high and very high levels of stunting
mainly in central and northern India (more than 30% and 40%, respectively),
but less than 20% in almost the entire south.
- This shows the important role played by political commitment,
administrative efficiency, literacy and women’s empowerment in ensuring
- Food and freedom go together, and the availability of one strongly
influences access to the other; social institutions can work to improve
nutrition and children’s welfare in free societies, and the absence of
hunger enables people to develop their capabilities.
- Governments should acknowledge the linkages and commit themselves
to improved nutritional policies.
Steps taken by the government
- The national framework to improve nutrition already exists.
- The Anganwadi Services scheme, which incorporates the Integrated
Child Development Services, caters to children up to age six, and to
pregnant and lactating women.
- If it has not worked well in several States, it must be subjected
to a rigorous review and targeted interventions for supplementary nutrition
- Among the factors affecting the quantity and quality of nutrition
are maternal education, age at marriage, antenatal care, children’s diet and
- The mapping of malnutrition at the district level is available, as
in the Global Nutrition Report, it is incumbent on State governments to
address these determining factors.
- A second issue is that of the quality of nutrition in packaged
foods available to children.
- The report says only 21% of these foods in India were rated as
being healthy, based on overall energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat on the
negative side, and vegetable, fruit, protein, fibre and calcium as positive
- The fact that the global average of processed foods scored only
31% and a peak of 37% in New Zealand indicates that whole foods and cooked
meals emerge superior.
- India should invest more of its economic prosperity in its welfare
system, without binding itself in restrictive budgetary formulations.
- The Economic Survey 2017-18 put social services spending at 6.6%
of GDP, an insignificant rise after a marginal decline from the 6% band
during the previous year to 5.8%.
- The latest report on stunting and wasting should convince the
Centre that it needs to understand the problem better and work with the
States to give India’s children a healthy future.
According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, Which country has the
maximum number of cases of stunting due to malnutrition?
Q.1) The national framework to improve nutrition for children must be
upgraded on priority. Critically examine the statement.