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Nutrition and food security in India - statistics & facts

India belongs to one of the countries that is most affected by hunger and malnutrition according to a report by the Global Hunger Index. Some of the key indicators of malnutrition are undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. While the mortality rates for children under five have improved significantly over the years, child wasting rates continue to increase across the country. Child wasting refers to children whose weight is low in proportion to their height. Child stunting, on the other hand, alludes to those children with impaired growth and development relative to their height and age as established by the WHO. The common denominator among these parameters for malnutrition is poor diet lacking the essential macro and micronutrients required for growth.

Consumption of food grains, specifically cereals, since they provide energy and proteins is very important.. Historically, India had been stricken with famines, a burgeoning population and a relatively low per capita income. This made food security a chronic challenge. Additionally, the prevalence of poverty, lack of access to food, repeated disease, climate change, lack of access to safe and portable water, and lack of education, specifically among women and the tribal communities added to these woes. While India has initiatives in place to eradicate hunger and food insecurity, the overarching goal of the country was aimed around complete nourishment of human resources focusing on its development, growth and productivity.

The economic transition from a predominantly agrarian to an industrialized society inevitably brought about drastic changes in the lifestyle of people, both rural and urban. Along with primarily sedentary lifestyles, dietary preferences shifted from traditional to modern cooking practices with increased intake of processed foods. Numerous studies indicated that the majority of the Indian population consumed foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt content.
Frequent consumption of such energy-dense foods can lead to putting on too much weight and obesity. Consequently, this can have deleterious effects on the population, specifically among children. The antidote to these issues lies in behavioral and lifestyle changes that can ameliorate the health condition of the individual. The recommended daily intake of fruits, vegetables or dietary fibers such as whole grains or cereals was relatively low across the country.

Based on the recommended dietary allowances, the government developed a dietary plan that comprises of food proportion from different groups for an average two thousand Kcal Indian diet. The plan recommends sourcing major macro and micronutrients from at least eight different food groups per day. This included fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and tubers. The other portion comprises of cereals and millets, pulses, milk, and curd. Although this diet plan may not be characteristic of a curative diet, regular consumption of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the prescribed dietary proportions, coupled with regular physical exercise was aimed to increase immune function. By inference, this could lead to a reduction in the propensity for contracting communicable diseases and minimizing the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, cancer or diabetes.

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Prevalence of disease

Recommended food intake

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Nutrition and food security in India

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Nutrition and food security in India - statistics & facts

India belongs to one of the countries that is most affected by hunger and malnutrition according to a report by the Global Hunger Index. Some of the key indicators of malnutrition are undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. While the mortality rates for children under five have improved significantly over the years, child wasting rates continue to increase across the country. Child wasting refers to children whose weight is low in proportion to their height. Child stunting, on the other hand, alludes to those children with impaired growth and development relative to their height and age as established by the WHO. The common denominator among these parameters for malnutrition is poor diet lacking the essential macro and micronutrients required for growth.

Consumption of food grains, specifically cereals, since they provide energy and proteins is very important.. Historically, India had been stricken with famines, a burgeoning population and a relatively low per capita income. This made food security a chronic challenge. Additionally, the prevalence of poverty, lack of access to food, repeated disease, climate change, lack of access to safe and portable water, and lack of education, specifically among women and the tribal communities added to these woes. While India has initiatives in place to eradicate hunger and food insecurity, the overarching goal of the country was aimed around complete nourishment of human resources focusing on its development, growth and productivity.

The economic transition from a predominantly agrarian to an industrialized society inevitably brought about drastic changes in the lifestyle of people, both rural and urban. Along with primarily sedentary lifestyles, dietary preferences shifted from traditional to modern cooking practices with increased intake of processed foods. Numerous studies indicated that the majority of the Indian population consumed foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt content.
Frequent consumption of such energy-dense foods can lead to putting on too much weight and obesity. Consequently, this can have deleterious effects on the population, specifically among children. The antidote to these issues lies in behavioral and lifestyle changes that can ameliorate the health condition of the individual. The recommended daily intake of fruits, vegetables or dietary fibers such as whole grains or cereals was relatively low across the country.

Based on the recommended dietary allowances, the government developed a dietary plan that comprises of food proportion from different groups for an average two thousand Kcal Indian diet. The plan recommends sourcing major macro and micronutrients from at least eight different food groups per day. This included fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and tubers. The other portion comprises of cereals and millets, pulses, milk, and curd. Although this diet plan may not be characteristic of a curative diet, regular consumption of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the prescribed dietary proportions, coupled with regular physical exercise was aimed to increase immune function. By inference, this could lead to a reduction in the propensity for contracting communicable diseases and minimizing the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, cancer or diabetes.

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