Diet-related NCDs threaten India, need integrated approach

Diet-related NCDs threaten India, need integrated approach

Noting that dietary imbalance is a major contributor to the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases in children and adults alike, experts at the second edition of the mega Bharat Nutrition Week conclave, organised by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, a leading think tank dedicated to promoting health for all, agreed on the importance of an integrated approach to raising awareness and addressing available resources.

Dr A. Laxmaiah, head of public health nutrition at the National Institute of Nutrition-ICMR, explained, "There are three major facets to India's nutrition problem: malnutrition, hidden hunger, and diet-related noncommunicable illness" (NCD). India has 47 million stunted children, accounting for one-third of the worldwide burden. India is currently second only to China in terms of diabetes prevalence, and if no preventive measures are adopted, we may soon surpass China. The majority of it is preventable with a healthy diet and regular physical activity. The government now operates an NCD control programme in 100 districts across the country, but it should be expanded to all districts. Additionally, issues of availability, accessibility, and price must be addressed. While the PDS enables individuals to acquire food, it only offers one type of food, limiting dietary diversification - our advice to the government is that the PDS provide a food basket.”

Dr Harshad Thakur, head of the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), stated, "Over the last year and a half, we've shifted our focus away from nutrition and onto Covid." This nutrition disorder has a complex aetiology. We require widespread understanding of nutrition and an intersectoral, inter-ministerial approach to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 3.”

Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist at the Centre For Dietary Counselling, emphasised the critical role of a healthy stomach in nutrient absorption, saying, "India produces enough food but does not benefit from it." Nutrition as a science is growing, and a greater understanding of inflammation is necessary. Gut integrity is critical since many issues arise as a result of poor gut health impairing nutrition absorption. These are the issues we need to address and educate people about.”

Dr Hema Divakar, CEO and chairman of the Asian Research & Training Institute for Skill Transfer and chair of the IHW Council Advisory Committee on Maternal and Child Health, stated, "Good nutrition begins in utero, and gestational diabetes mellitus was one of the first triggers for doctors to consider nutrition therapy for pregnant women – FIGO (The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) has a nutrition committee." Our 1000-day journey through the IHW Council's SHAPATH programme is centred on this current emphasis on nutrition. It is critical to continue testing, documenting, and discussing dietary deficiencies.”

“Food is one of the fundamental prerequisites for a healthy and productive life, and despite the fact that we are in our 75th year of independence, not all Indians are able to consume as much as they should or need,” said Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council. According to government estimates, over 40% of children aged 6 months to 5 years in 514 districts suffer from anaemia, an illness that can be prevented with the proper nutrition. Obesity prevalence among children aged 5 to 19 years ranged between 3.6 and 11.7 percent and is expected to reach 17 million by 2025. The nutrition dichotomy in India is revealing, and the consequences can be dire. According to some estimates, malnutrition can result in GDP losses of between 2% and 3% and can potentially diminish an individual's lifetime earnings by more than 10%. This second edition of Bharat Nutrition Week will attempt to close gaps in order to pave the way for Poshan-yukt Bharat.”