TN to give rich supplements to weak children

Last Updated 18 September 2013, 22:39 IST

 Children with poor body mass index in the state will be served calorie-rich food supplements such as biscuits, cereals, cookies as part of the government’s free noon meal.  The state government’s move came after a recent survey revealing the body mass index of children going to government schools in some districts has been poor.

Food distributed under the scheme, which will include peanut barphi, ragi barphi and green gram barphi, will also contain a minimum of 250 calories.

"A recent government study at Perambalur district has revealed that many children studying in government schools in that area suffer from poor body mass index,” a senior official from Social Welfare Department told Deccan Herald.

The survey also showed that the food offered under the government scheme was not sufficient to improve the body mass index.

Senior government health officer S Elongavan said the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency fund (Unicef) have categorised children below 3 percentile in body mass index for age chart as severely malnourished.

"These children will not only lose interest in studies but also are easily prone for fatigue and several disorders", he said.

Government sources added that the new scheme would be initially started in Perambalur district at a cost of about Rs 3.7 crore as it is the smallest and one of the most backward districts in the state. Students will be given one item every day.

It will be gradually extended to other districts once the target groups are identified.

"The noon meal organiser will record the weight and height of every child and the body mass index for age percentile in order to identify the target group,” the official from social welfare department said.

According to the government's plan, details of the target group will be placed before the school nutrition committee for approval after which the list will be posted in the school notice board.

Each child from this group will be provided with an identity card and the whole scheme will be monitored by the school health programme.

More than 67 lakh children across the state have enrolled under the nutritious noon meal scheme are provided with hot cooked variety rice and boiled egg on all working days of the week. Bananas are provided for students who do not eat eggs.

Under the scheme, primary school children aged 5-9 and schoolchildren aged 10-15 years are given nutritious meal throughout the year.

(Published 18 September 2013, 20:21 IST)

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