Around 42 percent of the total children in India below 5 years of age are underweight, with 32.7 percent in the urban areas and 45.6 percent in the rural areas, according to the parliament.
Giving this information in the Rajya Sabha, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said that around 35 percent of women in the age group of 15-49 years suffer from chronic energy deficiency (CED) which is measured as low body mass index.
CED in urban areas was present in 25 percent of women, and in rural areas it was present in 40.6 percent women.
Tirath said the problem of malnutrition was complex, multi-dimensional and inter-generational in nature, and cannot be improved by a single sector alone.
The causes include inadequate consumption of food, frequent infections, lack of availability of safe drinking water and proper sanitation, illiteracy specially in women and poor access to health services, she said.