Malnutrition still top risk factor for death, disability in Karnataka: report

Malnutrition still  top risk factor for death, disability in Karnataka: report

Notwithstanding its economic prosperity, malnutrition remains the number one risk factor for death and disability in Karnataka.

The worrying fact is the unchanged status of malnutrition even after a gap of a quarter century as malnutrition was recorded as the most important risk factor in Karnataka in 1990 as well, said India's first state-wise disease burden data that compared a common set of health parameters for every state in 1990 and 2016.

"It is surprising, to say the least. Why malnutrition should be the top most risk factor for a state like Karnataka, which is not poor," Lalit Dandona, director, the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative and distinguished professor at Public Health Foundation of India told DH.

The disease burden report released by the Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu here on Tuesday illustrated how far and wide the problem of malnutrition was spread among Indian states.

"Only six states don't have malnutrition as the number one risk factor. They include three of Karnataka's neighbours Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa," Dandona said. Other three states are Maharashtra, Punjab and West Bengal.

Andhra Pradesh is the only other southern state, where malnutrition poses the maximum risk.

Undoubtedly, there are improvements in the last quarter of a century. For instance, in 1990, more than 34% of the disability (expressed by the unit DALY) was caused by poor nutrition whereas the number dipped to 10.7% in 2016.

Even with the improvement, it retains the top slot suggesting how sundry nutrition schemes fail to reach the target audience. Malnutrition is still the single largest risk factor responsible for 15% of the total disease burden in India in 2016.

This burden is the highest in the big northern and central Indian states and Assam. It is higher in females than males. The disease burden due to child and maternal malnutrition in India was 12 times higher per person than in China in 2016.

Kerala had the lowest burden due to this risk among the Indian states, but even this was 2.7 times higher per person than in China, says the disease burden report.

The report also points out heart disease, lung troubles and self harm are the three leading causes of death and disability in Karnataka. The life expectancy improved by more than eight years for both sexes 71.1 year for females from 62.5 in 1990 and 67.1 for males from 59 quarter century ago in Karnataka. In all other parameters, Karnataka follows the national trend.

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