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National nutrition guidelines soon: Irani

Square meal: Anganwadis serve as the hub for providing healthy food to children in underserved areas.   | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI

The long-pending nutrition guidelines for the country are likely to be made public soon, Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said on Tuesday.

The guidelines are likely to prescribe healthy diet for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of six months to six years, who receive/take home ration and hot cooked meals at anganwadis under the government's supplementary nutrition programme.

The nutrition norms are expected to also suggest ways to source the food distributed at anganwadis and what caloric content these should have. These may also suggest nutrition intake for children who are severe acute malnourished.

Also read: Restart hot cooked meals at anganwadis: Right to Food Campaign

Ms. Irani was chairing a webinar on “Nutrient Requirement for Children and Mothers during the first 1000 days” as a part of a series of webinars planned to mark September as the National Nutrition Month under the government’s National Nutrition Mission. She said the guidelines would be sensitive to the issue of coexistence of obesity and under-nutrition, which is also known as the double burden of malnutrition.

Double burden

The first-ever nutrition survey conducted in the country between 2016 and early 2018 found that 2.8% of children in the 0-4 years age group surveyed suffered from the double burden, while 0.8% each in 5- 9 years and 10 -19 years were victims of this.

Also read: Nutrition and the Budget’s fine print

The report added that while the percentages may be small, “the actual number of Indian children and adolescents experiencing dual burdens of malnutrition is a public health concerns”.

The survey findings have led to public health and nutrition experts renewing their push for a policy that focuses on under-nutrition alongside obesity.

The guidelines have been pending for several years, after Ms Irani’s predecessor Maneka Gandhi declined to approve the draft guidelines prepared by senior officials of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the NITI Aayog and the Prime Minister's Office.

While Ms. Gandhi favoured ready-to-eat mixes sourced from government or private undertakings, officials wanted food to be sourced locally through the help of self-help groups and emphasised on hot cooked meals - both these suggestions derived from the National Food Security Act, 2013.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 1:40:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/national-nutrition-guidelines-soon-irani/article32555049.ece

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