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India’s Growth Didn’t Reduce Malnutrition: Harvard Study, Malnutrition Less Common In Manipur And Mizoram

BOSTON, March 13: India’s impressive economic growth has not led to reduction in undernutrition among its children, according to a Harvard study that said the government should use its growing revenues for direct investments in aid like food stamps to address the problem.

The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study analyzed malnutrition by region in India. It said undernutrition was worst in the poor and populous states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It was less common in the northeastern states like Mizoram and Manipur, and also in Kerala.

“Growth in India’s economy since the early 1990s has not ended undernutrition among children in that country and may require the Indian government to directly invest in appropriate health interventions such as food aid,” the study by HSPH associate professor of society, human development and health S V Subramanian, said.

The study analyzed economic and children’s growth patterns from data based on the National Family Health Surveys on 77,326 Indian children in 1992-93, 1998-99 and 2005-06.

The study said India is not on track for achieving the target for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing child mortality. Given that undernutrition between 6 and 59 months of age contributes to about 25-50 per cent of the mortality in that age group, reducing undernutrition is imperative to achieving the goals.

“The null association between state economic growth and undernutrition among children observed suggests that the role of economic growth and, more broadly, growth-mediated strategy in achieving the MDGs needs to be reappraised. The findings suggest that economic growth has no automatic connection to reducing childhood undernutrition,” it said.

While the researchers found the prevalence of undernutrition decreased slightly during the study period, the decline did not correspond with the increase in economic growth.

(Courtesy: Press Trust of India)

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