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Nutrition security is a pressing need, and I agree with the suggestion in an article on Outlook India that we should have a separate ministry of food security and nutrition.

There is a need for a two pronged effort in India aimed at child stunting and lifestyle disease.

Child stunting requires an extreme focus on improving the nutrition status of pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls, along with maternal education on breast feeding practices and the right weaning foods.

Education to improve nutrition of pregnant and lactating women has not worked. Even highly educated pregnant and lactating women have poor diets. We must accept that education, while the most preferable method, has proved to be ineffective.

We must, therefore, focus on protein and micronutrient supplementation. We must ensure that adolescent girls, and pregnant and lactating women get an easy to eat supplement. There is no need to focus on calories in the supplement and, it must instead deliver 15 or more grams of protein and a wide range of micronutrients and DHA. Low BMI women can simply be asked to eat a couple of bananas or a couple more chapatis every day for the additional calories.

The effort to address lifestyle disease on the other hand is relevant for all adults and must rely on education. However, the education must be simplified to a recommendation encouraging people to reduce sugars and starchy foods like grain and potatoes, and to ensure a green leafy vegetable in their meals every day. The focus must be simply to reduce glycaemic load of foods and increase micronutrient density. There is no point or purpose in sophisticated education on food pyramids. Such education has been a failure and it is best to admit the failure. Everybody must also be encouraged to eat protein rich foods everyday like paneer, eggs, meat, fish, or to take a protein supplement.

Read the Outlook article here:

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