Nutrition Education Needed To Combat Child Malnutrition In India

“Among causes of child malnutrition in India are not just poverty or inadequate access to food but also a lack of nutritional knowledge among families,” Nisha Malhotra, an instructor of economics at the University of British Columbia, writes in a Live Mint opinion piece. “Impressive growth and rising prosperity in the past three decades have not alleviated child malnutrition in the country,” she writes, noting, “An alarming 43 percent of children under age three in India are stunted, 48 percent are underweight, and 17 percent are ‘wasted.'” She continues, “In my research, I have emphasized and verified the importance of poor feeding practices in infancy to explain chronic child malnutrition in India,” adding, “Poverty is, of course, a contributor to poor feeding practices, but it is neither the sole reason for the situation nor the most significant reason.”

“Moreover, nutrition education and information has been found to be more important than other socio-economic factors,” Malhotra adds. She discusses infant and young child feeding practices in the country, writing, “According to the National Family Health Survey III (NFHS) across all wealth classes, mothers who have discussed nutrition with their health workers … were more likely to follow the Indian government’s guidelines while feeding their children.” She concludes, “[E]xtensive intervention is needed to educate families about how to properly feed their children … at multiple levels, and nutrition education should also be made an integral part of primary and secondary education” (10/8).