How much one knows about nutrition? ‘Nutrifest’ gives food for thought

For healthy life: Visitors at the exhibition organised as part of ‘Nutrifest 2008’ in Chennai on Thursday check out the products at a stall.

For healthy life: Visitors at the exhibition organised as part of ‘Nutrifest 2008’ in Chennai on Thursday check out the products at a stall.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K.V.Srinivasan

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: The Nutrition Society of India must focus on basic work on nutrition which is slowly dwindling due to people not being interested in it, its president V.Prakash said here on Thursday.

Speaking at the inauguration of ‘Nutrifest 2008,’ a three-day meeting of nutrition experts from across the country, he called for networking of nutritionists, food technologists, doctors and scientists.

Dr.Prakash, who is also Director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, expressed concern over consumers getting confused by jargons such as functional foods, medical foods and recovery foods that come along with nutraceuticals. He said that the validity of such claims must be well established and nutraceuticals should not be confused with basic nutrition.

As for the micronutrient malnutrition, he said that a practical and committed approach would help reach the goal of fulfilment and the criterion for adequate iron, folic acid, iodine, zinc and Vitamin A.

Expressing concern over basic nutrition taking a backseat in the country, he said that it was being assumed that basic protein and calorie demands were already being fulfilled. This was not so, he pointed out.

There were cold spots of nutrition, there are vacuums and there are populations that still lack vital proteins and calories which results in a number of diseases. There is a need for revisiting this aspect of basic nutrition, he added.

President of the Indian Society for Parental and External Nutrition, Varsha said there was a lack of visibility with respect to nutritional professionals in the community. Dietetics and dieticians were dreaded as people felt that counselling from dieticians would mean restrictions and avoidance of the best things in life.

Indira Gandhi National Open University Vice-Chancellor V.N.Rajasekharan Pillai, in his inaugural address, said that high levels of food insecurity as reflected in the poor nutritional indicators and the periodic reports of hunger and deaths due to malnutrition were matters of continuing concern. Food security at the national level did not necessarily mean adequate food supply at the household -level, he said.

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