'No of underweight kids more in SC, ST category'

'No of underweight kids more in SC, ST category'
Most underweight children in urban India are from either the disadvantaged community (SC and ST), having illiterate fathers or living at homes without proper sanitation.

The study released by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) late September found that 30% of underweight children are from the SC/ST category, while around 20% are from the general population. Around 35% of the children have illiterate fathers while 16% of them have educated fathers. The study also revealed that around 50% of boys and 44% of girls who do not have access to sanitary latrines are stunted (arrested development which has implications to brain growth).

According to experts, the higher rate of undernourishment is due to decreased reach of services to these sections.

The Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) by the Women and Child Welfare Ministry (government of India), in 2014, revealed that in Karnataka, 24% of children from SC and 19.6% of children from ST category in the age of 0-59 months are malnourished. 

“SCs and STs are sections who don’t have access to most of the government services,” said an official from the department of health, Karnataka.

Cases of chronic malnutrition have increased and occur due to lack of nutrients in the food or because the mother is malnourished, said Dr C N Reddy, professor of paediatrics, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute.

“Illiteracy, unclean latrines and malnutrition are intricately connected. If the parent falls in the low income category and is unaware of good food, then the child will not get adequate nutritious food,” said Dr Lokesh Gupta, chief consultant, paediatric intensive care unit, Fortis Hospital. He added public latrines lead to infections especially in children which lead to diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia among others which will in turn lead to low weight, stunting etc.

According to the International Journal of Recent Advances in Multidisciplinary Research, social exclusion prevents Scs and STs from accessing government services. This worsens the health and nutritional status.

“Statistics by National Institute of Nutrition is authentic. There is no doubt that such statistics should be brought to light,” said Dr Viswanath, a consultant supported by UNICEF under the department of health and family welfare. He added people from the SC and ST community are the most vulnerable when it comes to nutrition.
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