Malnutrition stalks Bengaluru kids

Bengaluru: With Bengaluru’s population spiraling it is hardly surprising that it is ranked among India’s 10 most populous cities by a recent IndiaSpend report. But here’s the shocker : The report says the  IT City is not able to feed its children adequately with one in four being malnourished. The data shows that children under five in the city are more prone to being stunted or underweight.

The national survey found that almost 30 per cent of children in the city were stunted , 26 per cent were  acutely malnourished , 11 per cent below five were severely malnourished and 28 per cent were underweight.

Besides Bengaluru, the survey covered Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat, Pune and Jaipur. Combined, these cities make up  5.3 per cent  of India’s population and 4.1 per cent of the child population aged 0 to 70 months. 

“Nutrition and protein deficiency is the main reason. There should be 60 per cent of carbohydrate and 30 per cent of protein intake among children,” explains Dr Purmina, a paediatrician of a city hospital.  

Dr Usha Manjunath, director , Institute of Health Management Research, observes that slum children, poverty-ridden migrant workers and urban poor continue to face challenges and struggle for the minimum required nutrition while the middle-class children often end up being over-weight . “The child care services should be streamlined towards these classes for a healthier child growth environment,” she stresses, regretting that most programmes like the Integrated Child Development Services are not reaching people.

Referring to the 30 per cent  reduction in the allocation for  reproductive and child health in the National Health Mission (NHM) in the budget, she says the Centre needs to reconsider this and the state government should focus more on providing children nutritious food with more and better schemes. 

The survey was carried out to collect the nutrition status of children aged 0-59 months living in the ten most populous cities of the nation. Over 12,000 mothers were interviewed and heights and weights of over 14,000 children were measured.

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