India continues to grapple with the problem of inadequate nutrition. The problem is more acute with children across stratum of society in this nation. On one hand we have children in some economic strata, who don’t have access to a balanced diet due to the economic condition of the parents. They depend on the mid-day meal provided by the school or cheaper carbohydrates laden diet that is cheaper and something their parents can afford.
On the other end of the spectrum are children like my daughter who are over exposed to marketing from various FMCG companies and love to snack on carbohydrates laden diet. In our case we have introduced the concept of a balanced diet early on and thankfully my daughter seems to balancing her fondness for snacks with fruits. Of late she is also very receptive to nutritional supplements.
I think it is very important for children across India to balance their diet and catch up on the lost growth. These are some key facts
- Most children grow till the age of 18-21. In most cases this is the last growth spurt for height before the epiphyseal plates close on the long bones and there can be no more increase in height normally. For a complete list of child growth standards as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO), please click here
- In India by World Bank estimates 60 million children are malnourished, this means they don’t have the right balance between carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, proteins, water and fats. This nutritional deficiency affects them in various ways and eventually leads to issues like mineral deficiency, hormonal dysfunction, obesity, muscle pains, skeletal disorders and mental ill health. The number of 60 million also hides the nuber of malnourished children in the afluent families who risk losing growth due to lack of protiens
- It is estimated that India has around 80 Million diabetics and this is spreading at such an alarming rate that it is tied back in most cases to nutritional imbalance as children. Most diabetic patients are unable to adjust to new lifestyle. Some researches in the west have found that bypass patients go back to old lifestyle 9 out of 10 times knowing that it is the lifestyle that got them into trouble in the first place
- The age group of 3-9 years is the most crucial age group in India. Most Indian diets are rich in carbohydrates and lack in proteins. The situation is slightly worse in the otherwise healthy vegetarian diet. As children are attracted to tasty or instant food, it is impossible to feed them protein only with through egg white, soy milk of chicken. Milk enabled nutritional supplements is definitely a solution in this space
Knowing all this it is important for parents to think through the nutritional intake of their children and focus on the lost growth. Before we jump into that you might be wondering how do you measure the growth of your child against the health standards prescribed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)? I found this calculator on the Horlicks Growth + site, where you can enter the child’s weight and height and get an estimate as to which percentile your child falls in. The site gives you an option to download the growth chart as well as a simple explanation of the percentile methodology
The site also has some interesting perspectives from experts in the areas of growth and some good information as to how growth can be achieved without leading to obesity. I think ensuring our children are healthy is the key to the growth of the nation. As India tackles major health issues, if we are able to get to our children early and ensure that they have the right nutrition at the age group of 3-9 years, I think we would be in a better shape to tackle the health challenges of the future. Nutritional supplements would continue to play an important role in this process. Sometimes the results are as early as 6 months as the children catch up on lost growth.
Do write in with your feedback on this topic. If you have a story of how you tackled this issue with your children, or which supplements seem to be be working for you ? I would love to hear them and feature them on my blog. As always comment and suggestions are welcome.