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Something seriously wrong with the diet of Indian children

January 20, 2007
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I will leave you with some statistics from some ‘better off’ states to mull over:

Maharashtra:
The percentage of kids under the age of three who are:
Stunted (too short for height) – 36
Wasted (thin for height) – 15
Underweight (thin for age) – 40
No. of infant deaths pre live 1000 births – 38

Kerala
Stunted (too short for height) – 21
Wasted (thin for height) – 16
Underweight (thin for age) – 29
No. of infant deaths pre live 1000 births -15

Tamil Nadu
Stunted (too short for height) – 25
Wasted (thin for height) – 22
Underweight (thin for age) – 33
No. of infant deaths pre live 1000 births – 31

Delhi
Stunted (too short for height) -35
Wasted (thin for height) – 16
Underweight (thin for age) – 33
No. of infant deaths pre live 1000 births – 40

Cross-posted from The Great Indian Mutiny

Related Reading: ORT the greatest invention of the 20th century and an Indian doctor was a part of that team
Poor kids do not get access to good education
The rich are eating too much
A poor diet affects personality and intelligence
Wrong cooking methods destroy nutrients
Food made from refined white flour can harm your health
Processed food is junk food

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2007 8:48 am

    Food, and poor food, has been the cause and trigger of illness and disease for much of human history. Huge strides have been made in half a century, but it shocks me to think there are some still places suffering.

    ggw

  2. January 20, 2007 10:00 am

    THe fact that many indians are aping the fast food style of westeners has resulted in huge amount of malnutrition, obesity and undernourishment.

    We must avoid all hypes like Mac, KFC, Pepsi, CocaCola etc.

    The govt of India should promote some steps to increase the intake of wholesome food and promote Indian drinks like the buttermilk, lassi etc.

  3. Lottie permalink
    January 21, 2007 1:59 am

    The World Health Organisation, AAP & UNICEF all agree solids should not commence in any form until 6 months to protect the virgin gut. This is the sticky coating exclusively breastfeeding creates in the gut which is what protects them from gastroenteritis and a whole host of other illnesses that kill. Foreign protein such as that found in infant formula and indeed solid food destroy this coating.
    Secondly I dont believe the cause of malnutrition is due to exclusively breastfeeding for 6-9 months. This is EXTREMELY common in non Westernised countries for many reasons and indeed, many Dr’s recommend exclusively breastfeeding for 12 months in the case of severe allergies.
    What percentage of the children were formula fed? One of the biggest cause of infant death and indeed malnutrition in areas of poverty is infant formula. Manufacturers promote their wares to mothers as free supplements, the mothers use these which in turn reduces their own milk supply and the chances of breastfeeding their baby. Once the mother is without the free supplements the family often cant afford to purchase the formula, thus it is diluted, made with unclean water, stored at the wrong temp etc etc
    I would be interested to know the growth stats at 6-9mth compared to 18 as my guess would be it is actually when breastmilk stops and rice becomes the main diet that problems really begin….

  4. January 21, 2007 6:52 am

    Ofcourse I agree that solid foods should not be started at six months. However I have written:
    “What is actually recommended is that semi-solid foods are started as early as four to five months and gradually the consistency made thicker so that the child gets used to eating. I believe this to be so.”
    But I am not an expert and may be wrong. I did it with my own baby – started her at five months with one snack of a piece of mashed bananna diluted with milk. I would give her different fruits everyday…nothing really solid.
    Actually if the mother is healthy, breast feeding alone can suffice, but women themselves are weak and anemic as the same report says. For example 35% of Indian women have a BMI of 18.5 and the average is 20.
    But again, I am sure you are right about the fact that the children are healthier when they are younger…and their nourishment deteriorates when they are taken off breast milk.
    And you are absolutely right when you say:
    “Manufacturers promote their wares to mothers as free supplements, the mothers use these which in turn reduces their own milk supply and the chances of breastfeeding their baby. Once the mother is without the free supplements the family often cant afford to purchase the formula, thus it is diluted, made with unclean water, stored at the wrong temp etc”
    I will try and get the growth stats are 6-9 months as compared to later…this should be very interesting. In terms of vitamins, minerals etc I am sure their bodies start to lack it when they are taken off breast milk. I will do a separate piece on this.
    Thanks Lottie. It very good to discuss this with someone who has knowledge.

  5. Zaheer E N permalink
    May 14, 2007 11:44 am

    Being educated and being literate are two different things.
    Unfortunately we tend to substitute one for the other.
    Being literate is only being able to read and write ones name according to indian definitions. and definitely that is not enough.
    Educating people about best practices and hygiene is what is most important.
    I believe NGO’s should take action on this regard.

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