GOverall, it is estimated that 13 percent of deaths under the age of five are attributed to wear and tear each year. In India, 20% of deaths and disabilities of children under the age of five are caused by hesitant growth. The risk of mortality increases exponentially with the severity of malnutrition. India has achieved steady improvements in under-five mortality. For surviving children, each wear and tear experience increases the risk of stunted growth, which is associated with a reduction in cognition, education, and economic productivity and an increased risk of high body fat / obesity, disease cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of having low birth weight babies. women.
Acute malnutrition increases during the monsoon due to the well-recognized effect of seasonality on feeding and care practices, disease patterns, and food security. Longitudinal study data show that waste was highly seasonal with the highest prevalence of waste during the rainy season throughout South Asia. Intrafamilial analyzes of nutritional status in India find that women and children under the age of five are the most vulnerable populations to malnutrition and therefore to the effects of seasonal waste. In Uttar Pradesh, a longitudinal sample of birth weight showed that babies conceived from April to September were significantly lighter than those conceived from October to March.
India experiences significant variations in agroclimatic conditions throughout the year. Seasonality has a strong effect on temperature, air quality, diets, food and water availability, vitamin A deficiency, disease, working conditions / income, sanitation, care, infant and toddler nutrition, and even health-seeking behaviors. The analysis and presentation of waste results without regard to seasonal patterns can lead to misinterpretation. Seasonality encompasses a complex interaction of factors that can increase the risk of acute malnutrition in children, as demonstrated by emaciation.
New data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS5) show improvements in demographic and health indicators in India, with exceptions in anemia, overweight obesity and childhood emaciation. In India, national waste estimates remain high by international standards, with one in five children being wasted (19.3% in NFHS-5). Emaciation in children under five is the most dangerous form of acute malnutrition. It is a predictor of child mortality under the age of five and an increased risk of future episodes of malnutrition. New research by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Indian Institute of Statistics (ISI-D) shows that care must be taken to interpret the prevalence of waste.
The prevalence of waste in India has been found to double from winter to monsoon seasons.
Nationwide analyzes show that the prevalence of waste is lowest in January and highest from June to August. National surveys are complex logistical operations and are often not planned or executed in a way that controls seasonality. The collection of survey data for different months between states may introduce a seasonal bias in interpretation. Cross-sectional surveys are not designed to collect data on seasonality, so special methods are needed to analyze the effect of data collection per month.
Also read: Anemia, Rising Obesity in India as NFHS-5 Reveals Falling Nutrition Indicators
Nationally adjusted estimates show a declining trend in waste
New statistical analyzes were developed to estimate and the prevalence of waste per month and an estimated weighted global survey that monitors the sociodemographic variation in data collection between states and populations over time. After taking into account seasonal patterns in data collection through surveys, trends show no change between 2005 and 2015, followed by a decrease in waste in 2016-18.
Based on unadjusted NFHS-5 results, waste increased from 17% to 19% and severe waste increased from 5% to 8% compared to CNNS, but should be taken into account. seasonality in interpreting trends in acute malnutrition. The lesson for NFHS5 is that seasonality may have worsened in the presentation of national results. There were 22 states and UTs with data collection before the blockade by COVID-19 (from June 2019 to January 2020) and 14 states and UTs after the blockages were eased (from January 2020 to January 2020). April 2021). More data may have been collected during the monsoon than in previous surveys, inflating waste estimates. NFHS-5 data will be analyzed seasonally as soon as the unit-level data is published.
Also read: Not just global hunger index, Indian government data show how worried we should be
The seasonality of malnutrition is not caused by lack of food
Most interpret the seasonal differences in nutrition to be solely due to food availability. If this were the case, there would be evidence of seasonal malnutrition at all ages of the population. This is not the case. The seasonality of child malnutrition is caused by changes in care practices, eating behaviors, diet quality or diversity, disease, working conditions / income-generating activities, water availability, and sanitation. and health research behaviors. Young children are often left with older or younger family members to care for when seasonal labor demand is highest. This period corresponds to the highest seasonal peaks of malnutrition.
A stronger policy can prevent this
Aggressive policies and programs must strengthen the care practices and resilience of families and communities in the face of the severe effects of seasonal waste on the health of children under five. In India, the population has extensive social security networks that include a focus on advice on best care, eating practices, public health and nutrition services, subsidies and food distribution, which indicates that the infrastructure is in place to protect itself from the seasonal effects of malnutrition. . Eliminating seasonal variation in emaciation would halve the prevalence and lead to a further reduction in acute malnutrition.
Our results show that seasonality must be monitored in planning, data collection, and analysis. It is recommended that surveys should collect data during the same month each year to ensure comparability in the analysis and presentation of results. Global waste trends should take into account the effect of seasonal patterns in presenting national estimates compared between geographies and weather. In order to have more timely and accurate measures of the seasonality of waste and the subsequent effects on the burden of waste on children under five, improved, regularly performed and cost-effective methods are needed to effectively eliminate seasonal threats to children. and reduce the incidence of waste. at its minimum acceptable level.
It is necessary to protect populations from seasonal deprivation that causes acute malnutrition. In India, there is a wide range of social services available to protect the population from hunger and food insecurity. Greater efforts are needed to ensure that children are protected from the dangerous effects of seasonal acute malnutrition, ensuring the full range of rights for families of young children and ensuring that carers have the knowledge, skills and resources that protect their children. their children from malnutrition.
Prof. Mudit Kapoor is Professor of Economics at ISI-D. Professor Gaurav Dhamija is Professor of Economics at IIT Hyderabad. Arjan de Wagt is the Head of Nutrition at UNICEF India. Robert Johnston is a nutrition specialist at UNICEF India. Dr. Praween Agrawal is the senior assessment, learning and team assessment specialist MEL at IPE Global. The views are personal.
This article was first published in Plos One.
Subscribe to our YouTube and Telegram channels
Why the media is in crisis and how you can fix it
India needs even more free, fair, scriptless and questioning journalism as it faces multiple crises.
But the media is in its own crisis. There have been brutal layoffs and pay cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to a raw prime time show.
ThePrint has the best young journalists, columnists and editors working there. To maintain such quality journalism, smart, thoughtful people like you need to pay for it. Whether you live in India or abroad, you can do so here.
We support our journalism