From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- Nutrition safety
The article highlights the issue of nutrition and suggest the ways to achieve nutrition security in the country to drive sustainable growth for India.
Nutrition in India
- A recent United Nations report- The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020 highlighted that there are 189.2 million undernourished people in India.
- Even though this number has declined by 60 million over the past decade, the progress is far too slow.
- While we recorded a drop in undernourishment, obesity amongst Indian adults grew from 25.2 million in 2012 to 34.3 million in 2016.
- India is likely to miss the 2025 global nutrition targets according to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, unless more is done, soon.
Impact of POSHAN Abhiyan
- With the launch of POSHAN Abhiyan in 2018, the government mainstreamed nutrition, with this multi-ministerial and multi-sectoral approach.
- It converges all existing programs to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women, mothers and children.
- It brings together several programs such as National Rural Health Mission, Mid-Day meals, Integrated Child Development Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and others to improve nutrition intake in India.
- The success lies in following an outcome based approach to ensure all the benefits under these interventions are delivered to mothers and children within the first 1000 days, setting the base for healthier lives.
Micronutrients through food fortification
- Food fortification is another effective way to deliver micronutrients to Indian masses, through existing food delivery systems such as mid-day meals and the public distribution system.
- Regulators have already been promoting fortification in food products like salt, edible oil, milk, rice and wheat flour to improve nutritional content.
- Going forward, we will see more and more food products and crops getting covered.
Need for innovation
- It is crucial for the food and beverage industry to make nutrition an integral part of their strategy.
- Healthier ingredients, fortification, reformulation to reduce saturated and trans-fat content and optimize sugar and sodium content, immunity boosting product is already commonplace across urban markets.
- This will soon permeate to rural markets.
- Factors such as product taste, convenience, shelf life, and price – all of which determine consumption – are also important elements that ensure higher intake of nutritious products by consumers everywhere.
- This calls for more innovation. Innovation in product, pricing, technology, digitalization, and research and development by food companies.
Rising nutrition awareness
- Solving the problem of malnourishment has to start with awareness.
- In rural areas, general nutritional awareness has historically been lower.
- In urban areas even though people are generally more aware a large percentage still consumes excess sugar and salt, leads sedentary lifestyles coupled with lack of exercise, resulting in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure
- Consumers everywhere need to be better educated about nutritional benefits of common food items and the importance of including them in regular diet.
- This can be done effectively through government led awareness campaigns and healthy public food distribution initiatives, industry acting responsibly.
Good nutrition is the best investment we can make in human capital. It has the power to drive sustainable economic growth for India.