National Nutrition Week is observed from September 1 to September 7 annually in India.
The theme of the 2021 National Nutrition Week is ‘feeding smart right from start’. Let’s understand the relevance.
What is “feeding smart right from start”?
The foundation of lifelong health, wellbeing, and productivity is established during our early stages of life, which is the first 1000 days of life. It is the window of opportunity when nutritional improvements can have the greatest impact specially in malnourished populations.
So, feeding smart right from the start refers to gaining adequate nutrition since birth. What you do as parents in the early stages of your child’s life makes the difference. The baby in the womb is dependent on the mother for mental, physical and emotional growth.
Feeding your child nutritious foods and teaching him or her about good nutrition can help your child grow up healthy and establish healthy food choices for life.
What are the key issues around nutrition in India?
The crisis of child malnutrition in India has often been attributed to historical antecedents such as poverty, inequality and food shortage. The urban population is rapidly expanding because of large-scale migration to cities for a possible better life.
In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 94th out of 107 countries. According to UNICEF’s data on India, nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition. Undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, and has become especially dire during the pandemic. Improving the nutritional status of the country on an urgent footing is important.
Lack of basic amenities like safe drinking water, proper housing, drainage and disposal make this population vulnerable to infections. The major nutritional problems are protein energy malnutrition (PEM), vitamin A deficiency (VAD), iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).
How can the national nutrition week help the cause?
Every child in India should grow better without nutritional problems. Improving the nutritional status of the population is imperative for “National Development”.
The week is set to provide adoptable training, timely education, seminars, different competitions, road shows and many other campaigns among people of the community to promote nutrition education.
The Government of India has also accorded high priority to the issue of nutrition, especially among pregnant women & lactating mothers. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. Breast milk is complete nutrition up to 6 months provided the maternal diet is adequate. Breastfeeding should begin immediately after childbirth and after six months, adequate and appropriate complementary foods should be added to the infant’s diet to provide nutrients for continued optimal growth.
Malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem. The important determinants are inadequate food, level of poverty leading to low purchasing power, poor socio-economic status of women, female illiteracy, high rate of population growth and low access of the population to health education, safe drinking water, environmental, sanitation, hygiene, and other social services.
Nutrition education plays a pivotal role in overcoming some of these issues.
Authored by Janvi Dhanak, Clinical Nutritionist, Mind Your Fitness!