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ANALYSIS

Four per cent of GDP lost due to malnutrition, says ASSOCHAM-EY paper
Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Nearly four per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have been lost due to malnutrition. This was stated by a joint paper released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst and Young LLP (EY).

It added that women and children certainly deserved a better deal in expenditure outlay, since the country was home to 50 per cent of the undernourished children of the world, and women and girl children were last when it came to being served food in households.
 
Quoting data from the National Family Health Survey-4, the ASSOCHAM-EY paper noted with concern that close to 60 per cent of India children aged between six and 59 months were anaemic, and only about 10 per cent of the country’s total children received an adequate diet.

Women and girl children, for whom the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has launched flagship programmes, fared no better in terms of their daily nutrition intake. About 55 per cent of non-pregnant women and 58 per cent of pregnant women aged between 15 and 49 were anaemic.
 
“A large part of India continues to consume non-nutritious and non-balanced food, either in the form of under-nutrition, over-nutrition or micro-nutrient deficiencies,” the paper stated.

“It is important to understand that malnutrition derives not just from lack of food, but also from a diverse set of inter-linked processes linking healthcare, education, sanitation, hygiene, access to resources and women empowerment,” it added.

D S Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM, said, “The government needs to pursue policies which focus on removing health and social inequities and programmes and policies that aim to address the nutrition burden present a win-win situation.”

Amit Vatsyayan, partner, Ernst and Young LLP, said, “While sub-optimal nutrition impacts the overall health and quality of life of people, it also adversely impacts the productivity of the country. It is estimated that that nearly four per cent of the country’s GDP is lost due to different forms of malnutrition.”

The adverse, irreversible and inter-generational impacts of malnutrition make optimal nutrition critical to the development of the country as a whole and all its citizens.

The paper said that in order to cater to the large unmet needs of micro-nutrients, it was imperative to focus on production diversity as well as food fortification at a macro level.

“For instance, millets are three to five times more nutritious than rice and wheat in terms of proteins, minerals and vitamins. They are cost-effective crops as well. Yet they are considered a poor man’s crop, while rice and wheat are preferred over them,” it added.

“Millets are rich in Vitamin B, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc and are gluten-free. They are suitable for people with gluten allergies or those with high blood sugar levels,” the paper said.
 
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