The Global Nutrition Report, is the annual report card on the the world’s nutrition levels, and documents how every country is doing in its efforts to improve it. It looks at how each country is going about meeting the targets established as well as the steps taken that have proved to be effective in fighting malnutrition.
Nutrition is key to meeting all the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and having a population that is stunted or undernourished can have a crippling effect on a country’s economic progress and social development.
Which makes the 2016 Report a major cause for concern for India. It says India is way off the mark when it comes to meeting the targets set for reducing stunting, anemia and diabetes. India stands at 114 for under-5 stunting out of 132 countries, 120 out of 1320 countries for under-5 wasting and 170 out of 185 countries for anaemia. The report says that India needs to increase expenditure on nutrition by $700 million if it wants to meet targets.
Not all the news coming from India is bad. Breastfeeding rates are up and India has reduced child malnutrition rates considerably. Stunting, which is linked to frequent infections and insufficient nutrition intake, is also falling at twice the rate it was 10 years ago. but the reports are disparate across the country. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have made the least progress when it comes to stunting.
Another factor for concern in the report is the rise in diabetes and overweight conditions among adults, which are also indicators of malnutrition. What is lacking is a national strategy that aims at combating all the indicators of malnutrition.
Experts say India’s stunting problem stands for the largest loss of human potential in any country and the crisis is growing with under-nutrition coexisting with over-nutrition and the rise of non-communicable diseases.