India has made impressive progress in some dimensions of nutrition such as, stunting is reducing, and exclusive breastfeeding is on course of progress towards the global nutrition targets. However, progress in wasting and anaemia indicators is not as expected.
Despite performing strongly on agricultural productivity and improved coverage of safety net programs like Public Distribution System, Take Home Rations, Hot Cooked Meals, and Mid-Day meals, India faces a triple burden of malnutrition - undernutrition co-existing with overnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Malnutrition in India is a complicated problem: 35.5% of Indian children under five are stunted and over 57% of women of reproductive age are anaemic. Besides the challenge of under nutrition, the cases of overweight adults are now almost equal to the number of underweight adults. The biggest driver of this double burden is the poor quality of diets. There is a pressing need to revamp India's nutrition strategy focussing on creating sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets.
India has made impressive progress in some dimensions of nutrition such as, stunting is reducing, and exclusive breastfeeding is on course of progress towards the global nutrition targets. © GAIN / Frederick Dharshie
The Indian population, both in rural and urban areas, experiences low consumption of fruits and vegetables, whilst there are increasing trends in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and diets which elevate cholesterol (essentially unhealthy fats) and sodium (too much salt). This is reflected in an increase in overweight and obesity rates among the adult population, from around 20% in 2015 to 24% in 2019. Through published scientific literature, similar trends are observed for children and adolescents.
Actions are needed to reinforce and protect current positive dietary patterns and to curb and reverse those associated with increased risk of various forms of malnutrition. Changing these trends will require a multi-pronged strategy, involving relevant stakeholders to transform food systems so that they deliver better and more sustainable diets for everyone.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is a Swiss-based foundation launched at the United Nations in 2002 to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. Due to COVID19, conflict in Ukraine, and climate change, malnutrition and hunger have worsened significantly since 2019, reversing a decade of progress. There is growing recognition that our food systems need to change if we are to reverse these trends.
India is one of the countries impacted by malnutrition. GAIN’s Strategy aims to transform food systems to make healthier diets from sustainable food systems accessible to all people and especially those whose are most vulnerable to shocks. By 2027, we aim to improve the access of 1.5 billion people to nutritionally enhanced staple foods, improve the access of 25 million people to healthier diets, and support positive food system change in 10 countries. This is bold and complex, and the only way to achieve this is to work together with partners including governments, businesses, and civil society at the country and global level.
GAIN has been working in India since 2003. For over 15 years, we have been working with governments, policymakers, and the industry to make nutritious food more accessible, available, and affordable via implementing programmes across the country at scale. © GAIN
These goals, and the ways of achieving them, build on our twenty-year legacy of transforming people’s lives with improved nutrition through concerted action and effective policy change.
GAIN has been working in India since 2003. For over 15 years, we have been working with governments, policymakers, and the industry to make nutritious food more accessible, available, and affordable via implementing programmes across the country at scale.
India has separate policies on agriculture, food security, and nutrition, moving forward, we wish to create synergies and trade-offs across sectors such as gender, livelihoods, environment, and health to achieve more resilient and improved food systems that can contribute to tackling the rising nutrition insecurity In India and help in promoting healthier diets for all.