Child under-nutrition is not a poverty issue alone: World Bank

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 13, 2014 Published on November 13, 2014

Good care The report says adequate feeding, healthcare andenvironmental health are essential.

‘Only 7% infants in wealthy families receive adequate feeding, healthcare’

Under-nutrition among infants in India is not a poverty or food insecurity issue alone, says a new World Bank report, adding that child care, feeding and awareness play an important role even among the wealthy.

According to the report, Nutrition in India, even among the wealthy only about 7 per cent children between 6 and 24 months receive adequate feeding, healthcare and environmental health.

“Appropriate infant and young child feeding practices even in the highest wealth quintile are extremely poor,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India, in a statement.

The report says three critical things — adequate feeding, healthcare and environmental health — can dramatically reduce stunting in Indian infants, aged 6 to 24 months.

The stunting rate with children who are provided with adequate feeding, care and proper environment is half when compared to children who live without these provisions. Stunting in children not only affects physical growth but is also associated with poor brain and cognitive development.


“The prevalence of stunting in children with adequate feeding, care and environmental health is 30 per cent as compared to 54 per cent in those who have none of these in adequate measures,” the statement said.

The report, which analyses data from the National Family Health Survey 2005-06 and the HUMGaMA Survey 2011, says this trend is evident even in States with poor nutrition outcome, such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Focusing on 11 policy briefs covering various aspects of nutrition, the World Bank report says there is only a narrow window of opportunity from conception to two years of age to improve stunting. India loses over $12 billion in GDP to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the report says, commending the flagship Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, which made “significant improvement” in the nutritional status of children.

“Coupled with better health, water and sanitation programmes, the ICDS could have a lasting impact on nutrition,” Ashi Kathuria, Senior Nutrition Specialist, World Bank, said.

Published on November 13, 2014
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