Obesity, malnourishment, anaemia and more: What ails children of Bengaluru and why?

India ranked 101 out of 116 countries in Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021. India’s score on GHI indicators is 27.5, which shows that India has a serious level of hunger
Picture for representational purposes only | (Pic: Express)
Picture for representational purposes only | (Pic: Express)

Over the past four to five years, there has been an increase in the number of children who are malnourished, obese, anaemic or stunted, in Bengaluru. “Obesity is rising because of the kind of food people are consuming, which has low nutritional value and high-calorie intake,” said Mohar Banerjee, senior programme manager at Rise Against The Hunger India foundation, adding that though people are obese, they are still malnourished as they barely consume all the nutrients required in a balanced diet.

“A person’s health gets severely affected by being underweight or obese, as both have different effects on the body,” said Resident Medical Officer, IBS Hospital, Dr Simmi Dang. Being overweight increases the risk of almost all diseases, such as stroke, high blood pressure and so on, whereas being underweight causes various skin, hair, bone diseases, anaemia, irregular periods in women, and a feeling of being ill all the time.

Various schemes were launched in Karnataka under the Integrated Child Development scheme, like supplementary nutrition for children in anganwadis, and health check-ups for pregnant women, besides a combined scheme for malnutrition and anaemia — Ksheera Bhagya Yojana — in 2013, providing 150 ml of milk per day for children aged six months to six years.

Banerjee said government schemes have a ‘one fit for all’ approach which is not practical, and schemes like Poshan Abhiyaan and anganwadis are not accessible to all. He said the scheme’s primary focus is providing the required calorie intake, rather than providing a nutrient-rich balanced diet.

The National Family Health Survey 2020 report also showed that currently, 31 per cent of children in the city are stunted, 28 per cent malnourished, 59 per cent anaemic and around 4.5 per cent are obese.

An Anganwadi Kendra worker, who did not want to be named, said they had shut during the pandemic, and only in the second week of November 2021, they started distributing food packets again to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children.

Priyanka Mary Francis, Director of Women and Child Development department, had addressed the issue earlier of a few Anganwadis limiting their reach to provide help to all children. She had said the solutions will be drawn up after joining hands with NGOs to improve conditions at the ground level.

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