Images of India : India battles to tame malnutrition…

malnutrition

While its economy is growing at a healthy rate, India still has more than 40 million stunted children, according to a recently released report. Despite the government spending billions of rupees on tackling the scourge, it has yet to make a serious dent in a problem perpetuated by poverty, gender inequality and disease. India actually houses the largest number of malnourished children in the world, larger than in sub-Saharan Africa. While overall levels of malnutrition are on the slide, eradication efforts are also being undermined by the rapid rise in India’s population which is expected to surpass China’s by 2022. The mothers, often poor and illiterate, are undernourished themselves – women’s lower status means they lose out on limited food resources, leading many babies to be underweight from birth. High rates of open defecation contribute to the problem. Open defecation increases the spread of diarrhoea, multiple episodes of which can permanently alter a child’s gut, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients leading to stunted growth. Economic impact of malnutrition on the country could be over $46 billion by 2030.