Fortification, the new mantra to tackle malnutrition

Micronutrient malnutrition refers to nutritional deficiencies arising due to lack of adequate vitamin and minerals in diets, which have an impact on the growth and cognitive development, especially among children. (DH file photo)

Fortification is the new mantra followed by the states to tackle micronutrient malnutrition in the country, which has the highest number of underweight children in the world.

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (Gain), which has set up a stall at the Mega Food Expo, organised as part of the eighth International Food Convention (#IFCoN2018), at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), here, is stressing on tackling malnutrition and about fortification of staple foods.

Micronutrient malnutrition refers to nutritional deficiencies arising due to lack of adequate vitamin and minerals in diets, which have an impact on the growth and cognitive development, especially among children.

While Karnataka government is distributing milk and is providing Mid Day Meals (MDM) to schoolchildren, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh have gone a step ahead by distributing fortified biscuits as a nutritious snack to children (6 to 11 years). Besides, staple food fortification is gaining momentum with states like Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, and Rajasthan providing fortified wheat flour through the Public Distribution System (PDS) or through various public distribution channels.

Karnataka should follow other states, which have given importance to fortification of staple foods, said scientists.

Fortified bread, under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), is being supplied by the governments of Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Kerala, Delhi, and Pondicherry, as a supplementary nutrition. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat are using fortified wheat flour to cook food under Mid Day Meals (MDM) programme. Fortification is a cost-effective and reliable means of reducing micronutrient malnutrition, say scientists.

According to a recent study, prevalence of malnutrition in Karnataka is higher than the neighbouring states. The prevalence of underweight and stunting in Karnataka is 34.5%, higher than the neighbouring Tamil Nadu which is 27%, Kerala 20% and Andhra Pradesh around 30%. The National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM), Haryana, Vice-Chancellor Chindi Vasudevappa, during his inaugural address, had mentioned that the country is in the 80th position in health rate and 58% people are anaemic. The Food processing industry plays a major role in fortification of cereals, oils, and milk with suitable micronutrients, he said.

Food fortification is not a new idea in India, as iodisation of salt with potassium iodate, and vanaspati with vitamin A and milk with Vitamin A and D started years ago. It has been made mandatory under law. The need of the hour is to
conduct a campaign to promote awareness about the advantages of consuming fortified food, initiating fortification of food products voluntarily by the food industry partners and also to engage brand ambassadors to promote fortified foods, opine experts.

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Fortification, the new mantra to tackle malnutrition

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