Nutrition is the science of food and its relationship to health. Food plays an important role in health as well as in disease.1 With the current increase in lifestyle disorders around the world, it is important to promote healthy nutrition in all age groups.  Improving eating habits is not just for an individual but for the whole population. Nutrition is double edged sword as both over and under nutrition is harmful to health. Under nutrition is particularly harmful in early age groups i.e. childhood and over nutrition in adulthood and after-years but both forms are likely to affect all age groups in near future. Some important diseases like malnutrition are obesity caused by excess energy intake, anemia caused by insufficient intake of iron, thyroid deficiency disorders due to deficiency in iodine intake and impaired vision because of inadequate intake of vitamin A etc.

As per NFHS-3, ninety-six percent of children under age five have ever been breastfed, but only one-quarter of last-born children who were ever breastfed breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Almost half of children under age five years (48 percent) are chronically malnourished. One out of every five children in India under age five years is wasted. Forty-three percent of children under age five years are underweight for their age. More than half (54 percent) of all deaths before age five years in India are related to malnutrition. Mild to moderate malnutrition contributes to more deaths (43 percent) than severe malnutrition (11 percent). Iron deficiency anemia is an important condition in India with seven out of every 10 children age 6-59 months in India are anaemic. Three percent of children age 6-59 months are severely anaemic, 40 percent are moderately anaemic, and 26 percent are mildly anaemic. Just under half of children age 6-59 months live in households using adequately iodized salt. Among adults, 36 percent of women have a BMI below 18.5, indicating a high prevalence of nutritional deficiency. Among women who are thin, almost half (45 percent) are moderately or severely thin. Thirteen percent of women are overweight or obese (10 percent are overweight and 3 percent are obese.2 The “excess” and “deficiency” of nutrition both are equally harmful and has long lasting effects on individual, family and community health. Thus it is of utmost importance to address this issue to make community aware of concepts of healthy nutrition.

Importance of good nutrition

Food provides us energy to promote and maintain tissue growth, and to regulate body processes. Nutritious food is cornerstone of health. Therefore, food should supply necessary nutrients in sufficient amounts to meet the body’s needs. Nutrition is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune system to fight diseases, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease) and longevity.

Read More……