Burst myths on malnutrition- Job Zachariah

Raipur:Poshan maah, to promote nutrition, is observed across India from 1 to 30 September, yearly. Prime Minister, last week, urged people to join the efforts in elimination of malnutrition in the country during the Poshan Maah.

In India, 36% children below 5 years are stunted (malnourished) and 67% children below 5 years and 57% women are anaemic (NFHS-5).

Major reasons for malnutrition are: sub-optimal breastfeeding of babies; poor complimentary feeding of babies at 6 months; and lack of access to safe sanitation, water and health services. Other reasons are inadequate in-take of nutritious diet and micronutrients; child illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia; worm infestation; low full immunization coverage of children; and maternal undernutrition. Social determinants like child marriage, mothers education, women empowerment, social protection and food security, also play a role.

There are several myths and misconceptions on malnutrition. We need to burst these myths. See below 9 common myths, which are not true.

Myth-1️: Malnutrition is due to lack of food: Not fully true. Food is important, but lack of food is not the sole reason for malnutrition. Many children in families with food, are also malnourished.

Myth-2: Poverty is the main cause for malnutrition: Not necessarily. Many children in rich families are also malnourished

Myth-3: Malnutrition begins from birth: Not correct, it starts from the conception

Myth-4: Malnourished children are thin: Not necessarily. Although most malnourished children may have less weight for their age, children with less height for age, and children deficient in vitamin or iron, are also considered malnourished.

Myth-5:Malnutrition is not a serious condition: No. Malnutrition is a serious condition, as it is the root cause for 68% of child deaths in India

Myth-6: Food and milk products available in the market help the babies to grow faster in the first 6 months: False. A baby up to 6 months of age needs only breast milk

Myth-7: Healthy foods are expensive: Not really. Locally available foods are also nutritious.

Myth-8: Some foods can prevent malnutrition: No single food has all nutrition requirements. A healthy diet should be from 4-5 food groups like grains, pulses, animal food, oil/ghee, dairy products, vegetables and fruits

Myth-9: There is no connection between malnutrition & child marriage: Not correct. Child marriage is a major reason for child malnutrition. A child bride may give birth to low-birth weight baby, leading to malnutrition of the child

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