Essay on Malnutrition in India

Free 750 words essay on malnutrition in India


Though quieter than famine, persistent undernutrition kills many more people slowly in the long run than famine do” (Dre’ze and Sen 1998)

‘Health is wealth’ is an age-old dictum but finds a perfect fit in the growth odyssey of contemporary nations where their journey is fueled by health and accelerated by wealth. Charting the course to economic supremacy, India is bandying its young population as its trump card. But India faces the greatest paradox where its demographic dividend could become a curse as malnutrition grips the asset of the country.

Free Essay on Malnutrition in India

What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition refers to deficiency or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy or nutrients.  The two broad categories of malnutrition are:

  • Undernutrition

Types of undernutrition -:

  1. Stunting – low height for age
  2. Wasting – low weight for height
  3. Underweight – low weight for age
  • Overweight / Obesity

What is the Impact of Malnutrition?

  1. Major impact of malnutrition is on the mental and physical health of a child.
  2. Undernourished children face twice the risk of death with respect to well-nourished children. Undernutrition is responsible for 45% of child deaths directly or through disease.
  3. Deficiency of micro nutrients have serious implications of the health of mother and child
  4. Vitamin A deficiency: severely impacts the immune system and is responsible for 1 million deaths worldwide
  5. Iron deficiency: its takes a heavy toll on the life of pregnant women and infant.
  6. Iodine deficiency: lack of iodine leads to mental impairment and lowers IQ by 1-15 points of an infant.
  7. Folate deficiency: it causes severe birth defects.

Malnutrition in India :

  1. India suffers chronic malnutrition problem constituting highest proportion of global maternal and infant mortality rate.
  2. GHI (Global Hunger Index) released by IFPRI brackets India under category of ‘serious hunger level’. India is pegged at 97 out of total 118 countries indicating a dismal picture, even worse than Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  3. According to Nobel Prize Winner for Economics Angus Deaton, “malnutrition in India is not just related to calorie intake, but India’s dependence on a carbohydrate – based diet with low protein and fat content.”
  4. NHFS -4 shows 39% of children are stunted under the age of 5.

Malnutrition and women:

  1. Malnutrition is an intergenerational cycle which is passed on to succeeding generation through mother hence underlying the significance of health of women.
  2. Girls when reach adolescence develop severe health issues which may have serious implication when experience early pregnancy.
  3. Stunted mothers are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and is leading factor of perinatal morbidity high and pre mature birth
  4. The poor nutritional status of women which is caused by frequent child bearing with closely spaced pregnancy along with heavy physical work, poor diet and lack of health care facility is passed on to next generation forming a vicious cycle

Malnutrition and economy:

  1. Health is pivotal to equitable and sustainable development of a nation. The relationship between life expectancy and per capita income is empirically demonstrated by The Preston Curve indicating that people of rich countries tend to live longer and healthier.
  2. Major international studies of Lancet commission, WHO shows there is a high return of economic investment in health sector.
  3. Globally, out of pocket spending (OOPS) on illness by economically vulnerable section of society pushes 100 million people in to poverty every year.
  4. Undernutrition is the major cause of various diseases a leading cause of loss of job which effects the family spending on education and nutrition. Unhealthy child will not be able to harness full benefits of education which is a disadvantage for future employment and income.

Government Intervention:

  1. End all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is stipulated as one of the Sustainable Development Goal
  2. ‘Mid-Day Meal’ implemented under MHRD is the largest school feeding scheme in the world.
  3. ICDS – Integrated child development scheme is the flagship programme of ministry of women and child development and aims to improve the nutrition and health of child and pregnant women.
  4. NRHM national health mission provides iron and folic acid supplementation to combat micro nutrient deficiency.
  5. Other programs like Swacha Bharat Abhiyan, SABLA, PDS, Mission Indradhanush are in the line to directly or indirectly supplement the nutrition and health of children and women.


  1. The plethora of centrally sponsored schemes does not commensurate with the ground figures.
  2. Lack of institutional framework to monitor such programs and undefined accountability results into a lackadaisical attitude of administrators.
  3. Lack of nutrition sensitive interventions like safe water, sanitation.


Health is the centre of development discourse and is a decisive factor in poverty alleviation and economic growth. Only the healthy population can contribute and be part of India’s vivid and vibrant journey of development.

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