Half of India’s 243 million adolescents, in the age group of 10-19 years, are thin, short, overweight or obese and suffer from ‘hidden hunger’, finds a report released by Niti Aayog on Thursday.
The report also highlights the increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases and dangerously low levels of physical activity among adolescents.
Over 80% adolescents suffer from ‘hidden hunger’, which includes deficiency of one or more micronutrients, such as iron, folate, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D, according to the report titled Adolescents, Diets & Nutrition: Growing Well in a Changing World.
“Early-stage implementation of schemes, along with knowing about the problem can initiate behavioral change among today’s adolescents. It is our responsibility to prepare today’s children as tomorrow’s competent adults,” said NITI Aayog Member Dr VK Paul.
The report reveals that almost all adolescents in India have unhealthy or poor diets that are among the main contributors of malnutrition. The report’s findings are based on the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNSS) and was released at a high-level meeting of the apex think tank including NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Member Dr VK Paul, CEO Amitabh Kant, Niti Aayog Adviser Alok Kumar, Secretary, Women and Child Development ministry Rabindra Panwar, and officials from UNICEF.
The report finds that fruits and eggs are consumed on a daily basis only by less than 10% of boys and girls. More than 25% adolescents did not consume green leafy vegetables even once a week while milk products are consumed by about 50% adolescents daily.
“Adolescents are the future of the nation, forming a major demographic & economic force. Therefore, the recently released #CNNS data comes at the right time, documenting the state of adolescent health and nutrition in our country,” Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said.
Today, 10-19 year olds in every Indian state face the increased risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Growing income and increased spending on food has translated to greater consumption of fried food, junk food, sweets and aerated drinks the report states.
All girls and boys are unable to meet 60 minutes per day recommended outdoor sports and exercise time. On an average, girls in late adolescents spend only 10 minutes per day on such activities, the report finds.
The report also states adolescent girls especially suffer multiple nutritional deprivations adding that Anaemia also affects 40% of adolescent girls, compared to 18% of boys, and worsens as they get old.