A Snapshot of India’s Nutrition Security in the Context of Rising Lifestyle-Related Diseases


According to the definition of nutrition security “A condition occurs when all people have physical, social and economic access at all times to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their daily dietary needs and food preferences for an active life. and healthy”. In the face of a growing population, climate change, dwindling land and water resources, environmental degradation and changing incomes and diets, achieving nutrition security will require not only more sustainable food production, but also smarter food production, reduced food waste and better nutritional outcomes. . There are many organizations investing in and improving agricultural research, education and extension, with the goal of making breakthroughs that address these socio-economic issues.

Obesity and diabetes are common in global communities today. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential. Globally, nutrition security has a 50-year history and has progressed through a series of definitions and paradigms. Following the historic Hot Spring Conference on Food and Agriculture in 1943, where the concept of “a safe, adequate and suitable supply of nutritious food for all” was accepted internationally, bilateral agencies from donor countries such as the United States and Canada were established in the 1950s and began selling surplus agricultural products overseas.

Aspects of food and nutrition security

The setting is influenced by two factors: physical and temporal. Food flow is the physical determinant: availability, accessibility and utilization. The temporal determinant of FNS is stability, which impacts all three physical aspects. Availability in this context refers to the actual presence of food, whether through own production or in markets. National food production, commercial food imports, food aid and domestic food stocks, and the underlying causes of each of these, all contribute to national food availability. The term “availability” is sometimes misunderstood, since it can apply to food supplies accessible at home as well as on a larger scale (regional or national). Poor health can be caused by a lack of access to health care as well as poor housing and environmental conditions and can be exacerbated by malnutrition, which predisposes people to disease. Food alone is insufficient to ensure adequate nutritional status over the long term. Therefore, other factors must be taken into account. Accordingly, nutrition is determined by the amount of food consumed and the state of health.

India’s position in the world

The global indicator framework for the SDGs includes a set of goals and indicators of progress in all aspects of human development, including social, economic and environmental development. He understands that ending poverty and eradicating nutritional deficiencies by 2030 is only possible if other elements such as improving health and education, reducing inequalities, stimulating economic growth and the fight against climate change are given equal weight. With starvation on the one hand and the growing burden of obesity on the other, India’s food system needs to do a lot more to ensure that people are getting enough nutrition. Malnutrition is a multifaceted problem in India. Stunting and wasting as well as vitamin deficiencies are nevertheless prevalent at unacceptable levels. More than a third of Indian children under the age of five are stunted, more than half of these toddlers suffer from vitamin A deficiency, and one in two women of childbearing age are anemic. Poor food quality is at the root of malnutrition and is correlated with six of the ten leading causes of morbidity in India. Food systems that influence food choices do not place enough emphasis on nutritious foods. Poor food quality is at the root of malnutrition and is correlated with six of the ten leading causes of morbidity in India. Food systems that influence food choices do not place enough emphasis on healthy foods. As a result, although food availability has increased, it has remained rather stable over the past 50 years.

Despite significant gains in agricultural production, India’s food system still has a long way to go in terms of nutrition and food security. A number of reasons contribute to the lack of nutritional variety in the foods we eat. Not enough emphasis is placed on improving productivity and storing diets rich in minerals and vitamins. To make matters worse, too much food, especially fresh food, is lost during storage and transport. For years, India has struggled to solve the twin problems of malnutrition and obesity. Undernourishment and overnutrition coexist in the urban population of India resulting in an unusual nutritional situation. While undernutrition leads to vitamin deficiencies, anemia and developmental delay, overnutrition is the cause of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes mellitus in the population urban.

Way of life

In mainland India, about 63% of men and 72% of women work eight hours a day. They spend most of their time sitting. Nearly about 28% and 21% of men and women, respectively, do not engage in any type of physical activity. People do not adhere to a normal diet, sleep and exercise routine in urban areas, which makes them unhealthy. It has been reported by various researchers that the moderate activity level was 50%, but it has dropped to 26% currently. Packaged and processed foods have taken the role of traditional cuisine. At least twice a week, a third of the population prefers to eat out. Previously, this only happened once every two months.

Government initiatives

The government’s focus on nutrition through the POSHAN Abhiyaan program, which includes a commitment to nutrition outcomes, especially in aspirational areas, is a targeted strategy with great potential. In addition, efforts are underway to scale up the fortification of staple foods led by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and supported by state governments, development sector organizations and technical institutions in collaboration with the private and public sectors to manufacture essential micronutrients such as vitamins A and D through edible oils and fortified milk; Vitamin B-12, iron and folic acid from fortified wheat flour and rice; and iodized salt with iron at 25 to 30% of the recommended daily intake. These are established solutions for alleviating micronutrient deficiencies and are especially essential during COVID times.

The Eat Right India campaign launched by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) takes an institutional approach to encourage safe, healthy (including fortified staples) and sustainable diets. The development and commercialization of naturally occurring mineral-rich crop types, such as zinc-rich wheat and iron-rich pearl millet, shows promise. Our food testing and regulatory mechanisms are further improved. In addition, private small and medium enterprises, especially in peri-urban, rural and hard-to-reach areas, hold great promise for ensuring access to affordable nutritious food. Micro-enterprises and female entrepreneurs have additional potential to complement rural life by selling healthy food. The major causes for the prevalence of NCDs are these behavioral changes that India needs to wake up to and communities need to be sensitized to the need for change. Indeed, excellent health and well-being are part of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is all the more important for India, being one of the signatories striving to achieve them.

(Arpita Khare is Associate Researcher-SSD, AIGGPA and Aamir Manan Deva is Adviser (SSD) Food and Consumption, Government of Madhya Pradesh AIGGPA, Bhopal. [email protected])


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