The changing nutrition scenario

Gopalan, C.
September 2013
Indian Journal of Medical Research;Sep2013, Vol. 138 Issue 3, p392
Academic Journal
The past seven decades have seen remarkable shifts in the nutritional scenario in India. Even up to the 1950s severe forms of malnutrition such as kwashiorkar and pellagra were endemic. As nutritionists were finding home-grown and common-sense solutions for these widespread problems, the population was burgeoning and food was scarce. The threat of widespread household food insecurity and chronic undernutrition was very real. Then came the Green Revolution. Shortages of food grains disappeared within less than a decade and India became self-sufficient in food grain production. But more insidious problems arising from this revolution were looming, and cropping patterns giving low priority to coarse grains and pulses, and monocropping led to depletion of soil nutrients and 'Green Revolution fatigue'. With improved household food security and better access to health care, clinical manifestations of severe malnutrition virtually disappeared. But the decline in chronic undernutrition and "hidden hunger" from micronutrient deficiencies was slow. On the cusp of the new century, an added factor appeared on the nutritional scene in India. With steady urban migration, upward mobility out of poverty, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle because of improvements in technology and transport, obesity rates began to increase, resulting in a dual burden. Measured in terms of its performance in meeting its Millennium Development Goals, India has fallen short. Despite its continuing high levels of poverty and illiteracy, India has a huge demographic potential in the form of a young population. This advantage must be leveraged by investing in nutrition education, household access to nutritious diets, sanitary environment and a health-promoting lifestyle. This requires co-operation from all the stakeholders, including governments, non government organizations, scientists and the people at large.


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