Challenges With Child’s Nutrition In India

To establish food availability and its hassle-free access by the most vulnerable sections of the society, corrective actions are needed across the supply chain.

The rampant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases coupled with the measures adopted to curb its spread has put numerous families at risk. It has adversely impacted their food supply, livelihoods, and household incomes. Additionally, In India, the pandemic has hampered one’s ability to access critical services for health and nutrition, early childhood care, education and social protection. Hundreds of underprivileged migrants walking on foot to flee their urban settlements and return to their homes in light of the lockdown were a sheer example of the COVID aftermath.  

Improved maternal health reflects in the child’s nutritional status while ensuring its healthy and cognitive psychosocial development. By preventing anaemia in women of reproductive age, we can avoid perils such as maternal deaths and infant mortality. The Government of India has introduced numerous effective schemes and programmes to address the problems of food insecurity and malnutrition. Falling under the purview of the National Food Security (NFS) Act, 2013, some of these initiatives include - Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the Mid-Day meals (MDM) and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). Furthermore, in March 2018, the Prime Minister launched an ambitious, multi-sectorial programme called - POSHAN Abhiyaan, with the vision to establish a malnutrition-free India by 2022. 

However, for a developing country like India, fighting malnutrition in children is not a single-dimensional event. The primary reasons behind this deficiency are the lack of adequate nutrition for pregnant mothers, delayed initiation of breastfeeding, suboptimal exclusive breastfeeding, limited access to nutrient-rich food due to social or economic factors, absence of age-appropriate complementary feeding of young infants and caregiving practices. 

Other factors which make resolving the issue of malnutrition in India more complicated are the economic condition of parents, lack of awareness, educational opportunities, and healthcare. 

Maximise the access to nutrition-rich options  

Accurate information on maternal, infant and young child nutrition along with continued protection against the marketing and donations of breast milk substitutes should be a priority for governments. The availability of age-appropriate, nutritious take-home rations should be enthusiastically promoted. 

Proper functioning of food supply chains 

To establish food availability and its hassle-free access by the most vulnerable sections of the society, corrective actions are needed across the supply chain. These logistics for food should follow hygiene and safety protocols while operating. To ensure smooth transportation of food supply, the related costs should be reduced, and transporters must be incentivized. Further, to enhance storage capacity, public buildings can be used. 

Brands targeting kids’ nutrition 

A Nutrition Initiative focuses on creating tools and schemes, which track as well as drive the contribution made by the F&B sector to battle the nutrition-oriented challenges across the globe. Such plans can be incorporated to bring a positive transition in the Indian F&B industry, simultaneously combating diet, nutrition and health-related issues.  The India Spotlight 2020 Food Index reports that healthy products form a small but significant part of the fast-growing Indian food industry.   

Getting children to eat healthy is often an uphill battle. However, with brands offering children-focused food and nutrition, which has natural ingredients, zero preservatives and good flavour, this job seems to have gradually become easy. For instance, companies like Slurrp Farm, Li’l Goodness use vegetables, cereals and milk in crackers, porridges and shelf-stable yogurts. To bridge the gap of quality nourishment for children, businesses are concentrating on the growing needs of both parents and kids. They use effervescent nutrition to make healthy food and drinks delectable. In addition, these products help in boosting immunity at an early age, provide instant energy and electrolyte replenishment.   

There is no doubt that India has taken important steps to ensure that the nutrition and food needs of the children are adequately met during these unprecedented times. By joining efforts, one can continue to provide nutrition programmes to meet the needs of all vulnerable individuals and those directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  


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