National Nutrition Week

National Nutrition Week

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Highlights:
  • National Nutrition Week is observed from 1st to the 7th of September every year
  • The main objective of the campaign is to create awareness on the importance of nutrition and encourage people on healthy eating habits
  • This year the theme is 'Ensuring focused interventions on addressing under-nutrition during the first 1,000 days of the Child: Better Child Health'
National Nutrition Week is observed annually from 1st to the 7th of September every year. The main aim of the awareness week is to highlight the importance of nutrition and encourage people on healthy eating habits.
National Nutrition Week

Each year the theme for National Nutrition Week is designed to focus on a particular pressing nutritional problem. This year the theme for National Nutrition Week 2018 is 'Ensuring focused interventions on addressing under-nutrition during the first 1,000 days of the Child: Better Child Health.'

Main Objectives of the Campaign

  • To analyze the frequency of problems to various diet and nutrition in the communities
  • To monitor the condition of the country for the diet and nutrition
  • To educate parents and children on the importance of nutrition for healthy living
  • To promote healthy eating habits among children especially during the first 1000 days of the child
  • To evaluate the appropriate techniques to prevent and control the nutritional problems such as malnutrition and under-nutrition in children
  • To encourage exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of an infant's life
  • To inculcate additional knowledge to mothers about the introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) feeding
  • To provide supplementary nutrition feeding program for better child health
  • To conduct awareness camps focusing on benefits of child nutrition, mother's first milk (Colostrum) and breastfeeding

Under-nutrition among Children - As a Major Public Health Problem in India

Under-nutrition among children has become a striking public health problem in India. The prevalence of under-weight in Indian children is rapidly increasing every year due to
  • Poor feeding practices during infancy
  • Poverty
  • Mother's ignorance
  • Frequent infections
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Unhygienic environment
  • Improper food security
  • Inadequate utilization of health care services

Why do we need nutrition interventions during the first 1,000 days of the child?

The right nutrition in the first 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday lays the foundation for a child's ability to grow, learn and thrive.

The growing fetus developing in the womb draws all of the required nutrients from the mother. If the mother lacks vital nutrients, so will her baby, thereby placing the child's future health and development at risk.

Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child's life can significantly lead to stunted growth, which is mainly associated with impaired learning skills and reduced school and work performance.

The prevalence of wasting (weight is too low for their height) and stunting (too short for their age) in children, under-five child mortality rate, and the proportion of undernourished in the population forces to set-up nutrition education to feed children better.

Undernutrition also puts children under five at a higher risk of dying from common infections and illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. Low socioeconomic status may also affect women's health and nutrition and makes it more likely that they will give birth to underweight babies.

On the other hand, current changing dietary patterns are also affecting the nutrition status of children which may increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease in later life.

Burden of Malnutrition and Under-nutrition in India

  • India is home to nearly 194 million undernourished population in the world
  • Around 190.7 million people go hungry every day in India
  • One in four children are malnourished
  • Approximately 21.0 percent of children under five are underweight
  • Almost 38.4 percent of children under five years of age are stunted
  • Nearly 3,000 children in India die every day from poor diet-related illness
  • About 30 percent of newborn deaths recorded in India
  • Only half of the children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed

Ways to Fight Malnutrition and Under-nutrition

  • Improve nutrition for mothers and young children during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to two years of the child
  • Teach mothers about the right nutrition for their babies
  • Breastfeeding within an hour of birth can prevent 20 percent of the newborn deaths
  • Provide breastfeeding during the first six months of an infant's life
  • Timely introduction of complementary foods
  • Offer a healthy and balanced meal to support the child's overall growth and development
  • Provide safe and hygienic growing environment for the child and reduce the risk of frequent infections
The Government of India also provides several schemes such as Poshan Abhiyaan to combat the severity of malnutrition and undernutrition in growing children. Poshan Abhiyaan has undertaken a host of activities across the nation to create awareness on the importance of better nutrition and targets to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia and reduce low birth weight (LBW). Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has declared September as National Nutrition Month. So, let us join together and take necessary preventive measures in raising today's children who represent the future pillars of our nation in a healthy way and reduce the burden of undernutrition in India.

References :
  1. Malnutrition - (https://data.unicef.org/topic/nutrition/malnutrition/)
  2. 10 Facts About Food and Nutrition in India - (https://www.wfp.org/stories/10-fact-about-food-and-nutrition-india)
  3. Hunger in India - (https://www.indiafoodbanking.org/hunger)
  4. Swaroop Kumar Sahu, S. Ganesh Kumar, B. Vishnu Bhat, K. C. Premarajan, Sonali Sarkar, Gautam Roy, and Nitin Joseph., "Malnutrition among under-five children in India and strategies for control" Journal of Science, Biology and Medicine (2015) Jan-Jun; 6(1): 18-23. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.149072


Source: Medindia

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