Friday, September 04, 2015
In a surprising twist, higher number of boys up to the age of 5 years in Madhya Pradesh were found to be malnourished when compared to girls!
These were the findings of the clinical, anthropometric and biochemical (CAB) survey 2014, conducted as part of the Annual Health Survey by the Registrar General of India. The results found that 51.5% children, under the age of five, were stunted (height below normal for age) and 40.6% of them were underweight (weight below normal for age).
However, looking at the gender differences revealed 58.1% boys to be stunted in comparison to 43.8% girls. Similar results turned up for underweight with 49.2% boys reporting it compared to 30.5% girls.
To health experts’ surprise, this data differs from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) which found almost equal rates of malnourishment among boys and girls in the state. The prevalence figures for underweight and stunting reported by this survey also differed from the results yielded by the Rapid Survey on Children (RSoC).
Trying to figure out these puzzling statistics, a senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) suggested, “This is quite odd, actually and I have not seen such high male-female differences. There is no clear biological explanation unless there are, for some reason, big age distribution differences for males versus females. If there are more (number of) younger females and older male children, this could change numbers.”
Although experts may stress on the need to analyse the survey methodology, the results still point to high numbers of stunted children in the state. In light of these findings, changing diet consumption and accessibility to junk foods needs to be focussed on. As an initiative to combat this worrying trend, the government launched the full meal programme for pregnant women in 5 districts.
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