Doctors in Gurugram have stressed on the importance of raising awareness about nutrition, considering the dismal health of children in the urban areas of the Millennium City.
The assertion comes on the occasion of National Nutrition Week, which is observed every year between September 1 and 7.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS 4), more than one-fourth children under the age of five years in urban areas of Gurugram are underweight. As per the 2011 census, there were 202,602 children under age of 0-6. The survey said 30.6% children under the age of five in Gurugram are underweight – 31.5% in urban areas and 27.1% in rural areas. The city had a worse record than overall Haryana with 28.5% children in the state being underweight.
As per the NFHS-4, 44.3% children under the age of five in urban Gurugram are stunted. The figure for rural Gurugram is 28.2% while that of Haryana is 33.4%.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India. Three rounds of the survey have been conducted since the first survey in 1992-93 and the last being in 2015-16.
Lack of equal access to nutrition hits the children most, said Dr Manish Mannan, head of paediatrics at Paras Hospital. “Lack of nutrition stunts children’s growth, deprives them of essential vitamins and minerals and makes them more susceptible to disease,” he said, while cautioning that malnutrition is more than a simple lack of availability of food. “It is a combination of factors such as insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients in the daily diet and frequent infections, poor care and feeding practices, inadequate health services and poor water and sanitation,” said Mannan.
Shalini Garwin Bliss, a dietitian at Columbia Asia Hospital, blamed the rising preference and dependence on high food of high calorific value as the reason behind bleak nutritional status among kids in Gurugram. “We consume a lot of sugar and foods with high calorific value almost daily which are cheap and easily available,” she said. Bliss also urged people to bring in a behavioural change to maintain balanced nutrition.
Doctors said healthy food for children includes a variety of items from five groups — vegetables, fruits, grains foods such as bread, pasta; breakfast cereals such as rice and corn; dairy and protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and tofu. “Fifty per cent of the food on a one year old and above child’s plate should be vegetables and fruits,” said Mannan. He said babies till six months of age should only be breastfed.
Gulshan Rai Arora, civil surgeon, Gurugram, said, “The role of primary health centres and subcentres is important in raising awareness about nutrition. The centres in Gurugram are working at the grassroots level and going door to door before and after a child is born to ensure proper nutrition is given to the kid.”