Malnutrition or Obesity-Which is India's greatest problem?

February 26, 2009
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India is home to one of the largest health-care programs in the world. While Polio, HIV AIDS, Cancer, Obesity and other such issues are being widely discussed and worked upon, malnutrition is an area where there is little or no progress in the nation. With more than two-thirds of the women population anemic in this country, and half of the children under the age of four malnourished, India's situation is a precarious one.

India also has the largest child development program in the world. Yet, most of the infants here are undernourished. In fact, most nourishment programs are not even targeted at the children under the age of three, which results in malnutrition at a tender age. If a child's nourishment is neglected in his early years, then he is bound to grow weak. A major cause of this problem is overpopulation, which leads to competition for food resources, shelter and adequate medical care. With a population of over a hundred crore, every single person in India does not have access to all the facilities that are being provided. Poverty in India complicates matters even further. With majority of Indians unable to earn enough to satisfy their daily needs and the remaining few perpetually feeding off the country's resources, it is impossible for the impoverished lot to fulfill their basic necessities. Even if resources are available, the people are not able to take them as they don't have the money to do so. This results in lack of ample food, medical facilities etc. With inadequate medical resources and dangerous child-care practices come hazardous diseases and illnesses. This is one of the chief causes of malnutrition in children.

Nowadays, malnutrition is not just a common phenomenon in children, but also in adults. It is a false belief among many, that malnutrition only results in loss of weight, and nothing else. However, the problem is much worse. Malnutrition causes the skin of a person to become pale and dry. Rashes become common and change in pigmentation can also occur. Gums become vulnerable too, and bleed continuously. It weakens the immune system and increases anxiety to a great extent. Malnutrition also has greater consequences. In major cases, diseases like night blindness and scurvy can also beset a person. It is a common misconception, that while it is very difficult to lose weight, gaining weight is a cakewalk. Overcoming malnutrition is not just all about eating thrice the normal quantity of food. It is about eating the right food, in the right proportions, and at the right time.

Not only does malnutrition affect the individual person, but it also affects India as a whole. It decreases labor productivity and economic growth, which directly affects India's progress. If India wants to progress further, it is imperative that her people remain healthy and happy, and that can only happen if malnutrition, definitely one of India's greatest foes, is eradicated completely. Only then will India truly PROGRESS. After all, health is the greatest wealth.

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