Micronutrient deficiencies account for 7.3% of the global burden of disease. One in three persons worldwide is deficit in iron, vitamin A and iodine, the three most common forms of micronutrient malnutrition. Food fortification is very cost-effective public health intervention that can reach millions using existing technology and distribution networks, according to the World Health Organisation.
Yet less than one in 10 children aged six months to 23 months in India gets an adequate diet, shows data from the National Family Health Survey 4 (2015-16). The nutritional intake of children in cities is only marginally better than rural children – only 11.6% urban kids and 8.8% rural children have an adequate diet that includes four or more food groups, excluding milk.
One in three under-5 children are underweight, including 29% urban children. Around 70% of adolescent girls are anaemic and around 50% are underweight. India is also home to the largest number of stunted children in the world, with close to two in five (38.4%) children under-5 years being small for age because of malnutrition, which lowers mental ability and learning capacity, raises the risk of infections in the present, and nutrition-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, in later life.