Malnutrition in India


    In News

    Recently ,It has been observed that Malnutrition in India is a worry in a modern scenario.


    • It refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. 
    • The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions and these are : 
      • ‘Undernutrition’—It includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). 
      • The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer).

    Malnutrition in India 

    • In India, child malnutrition has been improving gradually
    • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shown marginal improvement in different nutrition indicators, indicating that the pace of progress is slow.
    • Between the last two NFHSs conducted in 2015-16 and 2019-21, children who are underweight reduced by 3.7 percentage points, those who are stunted reduced by 2.9 percentage points, and those who are wasted reduced by 1.7 percentage points.
      • There has been some progress in tackling malnutrition among children and women over the past decade.

    Issues and Concerns 

    • Less Diet 
      • India’s greatest national treasure is its people, especially women and children but even after 75 years of independence, a majority of them do not get the required diet to meet their nutritional needs. 
        • A child’s nutritional status is directly linked to their mother.
        • Poor nutrition among pregnant women affects the nutritional status of the child and has a greater chance to affect future generations. 
    • Prevalence of Anaemia 
      • India also has the highest prevalence of anaemia in the world .
      • The NFHS-5 survey indicates that more than 57% of women (15-49 years) and over 67% children (six-59 months) suffer from anaemia
    • Budgetary issues 
      • Saksham Anganwadi and the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) 2.0 programme have seen only a marginal increase in budgetary allocation this year (?20,263 crore from ?20,105 crore in 2021-22). 
    • Under utilisation of funds 
      • Additionally, 32% of funds released under POSHAN Abhiyaan to States and Union Territories have not been utilised.


    • Undernourished children are at risk of under-performing in studies and have limited job prospects. 
    • This vicious cycle restrains the development of the country, whose workforce, affected mentally and physically, has reduced work capacity.
      • Developing countries lose up to 4.05% in GDP per annum due to iron deficiency anaemia; India loses up to 1.18% of GDP annually.
    • Pandemic impact
      • The pandemic had hit the economy hard, especially the unorganised sectors. 
      • Unemployment has also peaked recently and workforce participation has declined.
      • Low incomes, combined with high inflation, will definitely upset the food budget of low-income families. 
        • This will lead to increasing rates of malnutrition in the country. 

    Government Interventions 

    • Integrated  Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS)
      • Government implements Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Umbrella ICDS as targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country.
        • It serves as the most critical instrument in addressing India’s child malnutrition challenge.
        •  It facilitates a supplementary nutrition programme, growth monitoring and promotion, nutrition and health education, immunisation, health check-ups and health referrals, as well as pre-school education.
    • POSHAN Abhiyaan
      • India launched the POSHAN Abhiyaan, a flagship national nutrition mission to improve nutrition among children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in 2017. 
        • The government has prioritised addressing malnutrition through the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) Abhiyaan and with updated POSHAN 2.0 guidelines announced in January 2021. 
    • Introduction of community-based programmes
      • The introduction of community-based programmes for severe acute malnutrition, Jan Andolans, and community-based events, as well as the strengthening collaboration across departments has led to the implementation of a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition.
    • Matritva Sahyog Yojana
      • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) is a Conditional Maternity Benefit (CMB) Scheme launched in 2010
      • The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development as the centrally sponsored scheme.
      • It was launched for pregnant and lactating women to improve their health and nutrition status to better-enable the environment by providing cash incentives to pregnant and nursing mothers.
    • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
      • The centrally sponsored scheme was launched in 2017.
      • Rs. 6,000 is transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women and lactating mothers for availing better facilities for their delivery to compensate for wage loss and is eligible for the first child of the family.
      • Implementation of the scheme is closely monitored by the central and state governments through the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana-Common Application Software (PMMVY-CAS).
    • Mid-Day Meal Scheme
      • The Mid-day Meal Scheme is a school meal programme in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children
    • National Food Security Mission
      • It was launched in 2007-08 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
      • It was based on the recommendations of the agriculture sub-committee of the National Development Council (NDC).
      • It focuses on the sustainable increase in the production of targeted crops through area expansion and productivity enhancement.
    • National Nutrition Mission
      • It is the government’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
      • Aim: To reduce stunting and wasting by 2 percent per year (total 6 per cent until 2022) among children and anaemia by 3 percent per year (total 9 per cent until 2022) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

    Conclusion & Way Forward 

    • There is also a need to address gaps and inefficiencies in the present setup through public awareness, community engagement and empowerment
    • There is a greater need now to increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life. 
    •  There has to be direct engagement with nutritionally vulnerable groups (this includes the elderly, pregnant women, those with special needs and young children), and contribute toward ensuring last-mile delivery of key nutrition services and interventions. 
    • There should be a process to monitor and evaluate programmes and address systemic and on the ground challenges. 
    • The country’s response to malnutrition and its growing anaemia burden should be practical and innovative. 
    • The budget for the ICDS and MDM (mid-day meal) schemes have to be increased to adjust for the rise in commodity and fuel prices.