Only 2.2% of children under the age of two years in Maharashtra receive the minimum acceptable diet, according to the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) 2016-2018 that was published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare earlier this week. According to the survey, the proportion of children between 6 months and 2 years of age receiving the minimum acceptable diet across the country is shockingly low, at just 6.4%.
However, this proportion varied greatly across various states. Sikkim (35.9%), Kerala (32.6%), and Arunachal Pradesh (20.6%) ranked at the top, while Maharashtra (2.2%) and Andhra Pradesh (1.3%) ranked at the bottom. Maharashtra also ranked towards the bottom of the list for minimum dietary diversity. While the average for the country was 21%, only 16.5% of the children under two years received the minimum dietary diversity in Maharashtra. The state that topped the list, Meghalaya, had a proportion of 62.3%.
The percentage of children under two years of age who received minimum number of meals per day across the country was found to be 41.9%. Standing at 26.9%, Maharashtra ranked towards the bottom in this category too. The high-rankers in this category were Tripura, Sikkim, Kerala, and Chhattisgarh.
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Another problem being faced by the state is severe anaemia among children between the ages of one and four years. A total of 41.6% of children belonging to this age group in the state have anaemia, according to CNNS. The survey pointed out that anaemia is a severe public health problem in the state.
In addition to that, 49% of children in this group have iron deficiency, which is significantly more than the national average of 31.9%. Mizoram and Assam ranked high on the list, with the proportions being only 4.2% and 8.5%, respectively. A total of 29.1% of children aged 5-9 years in the state had iron deficiency, against the national average of 17%. Among adolescents aged 10-19 years in the state, 31.2% had iron deficiency, which is again much larger than the countrywide average of 21.5%.
The survey, released just before the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, points out how malnutrition affects the children and adolescents in the state, with it ranking at the bottom in almost every category when compared to other states in the country. The upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra will be held on October 21, 2019, and the results will be declared on October 24.
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