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There is an over 70% chance that your child is nutritionally deficient, even if you are rich

Lack of adequate nutrition has become a huge food safety and food security risk for all Indian children, whether from a rich household, or a poor one.

The statistics at this link are shocking –

72% of children from wealthy households, and 82% of children from poor households, do not get a sufficiently nutritionally diverse diet.

People must be told that dal-rice, sambar rice, roti-aaloo sabji, parathas, poha, idlis, dosas, etc, are not nutritionally sufficient meals for children. They are all deficient in a very large number of nutrients that the child needs. Sufficient high quality protein and high micronutrient diversity from a wide variety of vegetables and omega 3 is essential.

However, there are widespread, deep rooted, superstitious, and downright false beliefs in the “healthiness” of home cooked food. We end up painting all such foods with a false “nutritious” brush.

In addition, the science of nutrition has shown itself to be too sophisticated even for most highly educated people to understand and put into practice.

I believe that the time has come to not depend upon education as a solution. It has failed for decades now and there is no reason to expect that it will miraculously start working again.

Fortification of foods is not the solution either. This is not the equivalent of fortification of salt with iodine or aata with iron/vitamin D &A etc. Those solutions target specific problem areas.

We must have widespread protein-micronutrient-omega3 supplementation as the new standard recommendation.

The need is for protein and a very wide range of 40-100 micronutrients. This requires specific affordable supplements to be available and recommended as a universal recommendation for children. These packaged and formulated supplements should be recommended irrespective of the nutrition or dietary status of the child. These supplements must not have sugar and have very little carbohydrates.

An ideal way is to mandate all schools to give this to all the children for lunch. Only children with special medical needs that proscribe the consumption of these supplements should be exempt.

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