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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS: An Indian recipe to soothe micronutrient malnutrition – INSIGHTSIAS

Source: The Hindu

  • Preliminaries: Current events of national importance (various social service programs, micronutrients, anemia FAO, GHI, NFHS-5, POSHAN, ICDS, midday meal program, etc.)
  • GS Paper I & II course: Social empowerment, development and management of health-related social sectors/services.


  • Data from the National Family Health Survey-5 shows that one in two Indian women is anemic, one in three children are stunted and malnourished, and one in five is wasted.
    • According to a FAO Food Security Report 2021, India ranks 101 out of 116 country in the Global Hunger Index 2021.


The context


  • Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body is deprived of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it must maintain healthy tissues and organ function.
  • Malnutrition occurs in people who are either underfed Where overfed.


  • Micronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in smaller amounts for growth and development.
  • They play a major role in the metabolic activities of the body.
  • These include vitamins and minerals.

Malnutrition status:

  • FAO Food Security Report 2021: India ranks 101 out of 116 2021 Global Hunger Index countries
    • 15.3(fifteen point three) % of population undernourished
    • stunted children (30%)
    • emaciated children (17.3(seventeen point three) %).
  • Global Nutrition Report 2021: Growth retardation among children in India is significantly higher than the Asian average of 21.8(twenty-one point eight)%.

Actions taken by countries:

  • Developed countries and high-income countries succeeded in solving the problem of malnutrition by food fortification.
    • Low and middle income countries, such as India, have pursued food fortification in recent times.

Food fortification:

  • It is the process of adding nutrients to food.
  • Examples:
    • rice and wheat are fortified with the iron, folic acid and vitamin B12
    • Salt fortified with the iron and iodine.

The rice and anemia program:

  • Pilot projects on the distribution of fortified rice: In some states, including Maharashtra, under a targeted program Public distribution program for the masses.


  • Prevent cases of anemia: of 58.9(fifty eight point nine) % to 29.5(twenty-nine point five)% (within two years).


  • Health benefits from food fortification have resulted in:
    • 80 countries framework laws for the fortification of cereal flour
    • 130 countries with iodized salt
    • 13 countries made rice fortification mandatory.
  • The study showed a promising reduction29.5(twenty nine point five)%) in the prevalence of anemia in women, teenage girls and children


  • The condition of having lower than normal red blood cell count or quantity of hemoglobin.
  • It can feel tired, cold, dizzy and irritable and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.
  • A diet that does not contain enough iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 ia common cause of anemia.

Gujarat Midday Meal Diet:

  • Multi-micronutrient fortified rice intervention for school children (6-12 years) in 2018-2019 (part of Lunch formula:
    • Increase in hemoglobin concentration
    • ten% reduced prevalence of anemia
    • improvement in average cognitive scores (per 11.3(eleven point three) %).

Iron deficiency:

  • It is a common cause of too few healthy red blood cells in the body (anemia).
  • In a pregnant woman: an iron deficiency puts the baby at risk of developmental delay.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Iron deficiency anemia is responsible for 6(three point six) % disability-adjusted life years or DALY (years of life lost due to premature mortality and years lived with disability).


Go forward

  • According to NITI Aayog (based on the WHO meta-analysis on the impact of rice fortification): A rice fortification budget of around ₹2,800 crore per year can save 35% of total DALYs per year with no known risk of toxicity.
  • Rice fortification(costs less than 1% of food subsidy bill (2018-19): It has the potential to prevent 94 million cases of anemia.
  • Despite the proven effectiveness of the program: Activists have expressed concern that excessive iron overload from fortified rice has been dangerous for the tribal population of Jharkhand suffering from sickle cell anemia and thalassemia.
    • It needs to be tackled with proper research.
  • Reduction of micronutrient deficiencies: Given its proven effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, food fortification can help us reduce micronutrient deficiencies and provide overall health benefits.
  • The intervention, carried out with precautions: This is the key to the problem of malnutrition that the nation continues to grapple with.
  • Poor nutrition: There is an urgent need to tackle the diseases that poor diets can inflict on the masses, especially given the diverse populations in India.
  • Get correct schematics: This requires greater involvement of local government and local community groups in the design and implementation of tailored nutrition interventions.
  • The child’s diet: The need of the hour is to make the fight against child malnutrition the absolute priority of the government apparatus, and throughout the year


Q. Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinance for women’s SHGs? Explain with examples. (UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 POINTS)

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