Mumbai

Project to give breakfast covers 5,700 underprivileged children

Morning hunger is generally ignored amongst consumers from low-income groups as compared to the other meals of the day.

Morning hunger is generally ignored amongst consumers from low-income groups as compared to the other meals of the day.  

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Bright Start looks to arrest stunting in physical growth, cognitive abilities and academic performance that malnutrition causes

A project aimed at providing a healthy breakfast to underprivileged children has impacted over 5,000 children in schools across the country since April. The initiative was undertaken in the light of severe malnutrition among children, especially in Maharashtra.

The campaign, called Bright Start, was launched by Kellogg India in collaboration with The Breakfast Revolution and Sesame Street, both of which are non-profit organisations that work for the betterment of children. The project focuses on the provision of nutritious breakfast to underprivileged children in urban slums. The statistics concerning malnutrition as well as the salient features of Bright Start were made public in Mumbai on Tuesday.

According to studies, Maharashtra is home to over 85,000 severely malnourished and over 5.5 lakh moderately-malnourished children. Nutritionists at Kellogg India described this as the ‘triple burden of malnutrition’ as malnutrition comes in three forms: undernutrition, overnutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies.

Bright Start is based on studies like the the Global Nutrition Report 2018, according to which, more than half the children in India under the age of five show visible signs of malnourishment. It was observed during the research before the initiative was launched that missing breakfast compromises with children’s physical growth, cognitive abilities, and further affects their academic performance.

“In my career as a healthcare professional in India, I have come to see the disastrous impact of malnutrition first hand. Nearly 80% of school-going children go to school without eating breakfast,” said Dr. Pankaj Jethwani, co-founder of The Breakfast Revolution. Stressing the importance of the morning meal, he said, “Eighty per cent of our children suffer from ‘hidden hunger’, which is a micronutrient deficiency. More than a third of our children are underweight. This results in reduced learning abilities and a decline in productivity levels.”

One in every three Indians skip breakfast, said Dr. Subadhra Mandalika, convener, Mumbai Chapter, Nutrition Society of India. “Morning hunger is generally ignored amongst consumers from low-income groups as compared to the other meals of the day. Introducing the first meal in the morning with the right nutrient content is the need of the hour. We are working on spreading awareness on several parameters including the nutritional quality of the diet, dietary diversity and the importance of each meal,” she said.

Mohit Anand, MD, Kellogg India, said, “If we look at nutrients like iron, Vitamin D and certain B complex vitamins, the deficiency percentage is alarming, the consequences of which could be debilitating.” Bright Start project has impacted over 5,700 children pan India since April and is progressing to reach out more. The project has received positive feedback from teachers, children and their parents. “Children are healthier now, attendance has increased and schools have been witnessing an increase in new admissions,” said Neelam Jethwani, co-founder, The Breakfast Revolution.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 11:56:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/project-to-give-breakfast-covers-5700-underprivileged-children/article30119916.ece

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