Am I doing it right while selecting fruits?
Is my child getting enough nutrients and vitamins through vegetables?
Which oil and flour is best for my child?
Is my plateful of nutrients suppressing the micronureients hunger?
Why my child growth is under average?
What if I am not providing healthy meals?
Aren’t all these questions seems so relevant to us, but we many times get tangles in myths of deficiency and nutrients, this post shall surely clear few of them.
Hidden hunger, also known as micronutrient deficiencies, afflicts more than 2 billion individuals, or one in three people, globally. Hidden hunger is a form of under-nutrition that occurs when intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals (such as zinc, iodine, and iron) are too low to sustain good health and development.
Micro-nutrients are a group of nutrients which are required in trace amounts for normal growth and development. Micro-nutrient deficiency is often referred to as “Hidden Hunger” because it develops gradually over time, their devastating impact not seen until it leaves behind irreversible damage. Millions of children suffer from stunted growth, cognitive delays, weakened immunity and infections because of micronutrient deficiencies. Primary food, therefore, must be nutrition dense as the need for nutrients are not fulfilled by mother’s milk after 6 months, making Infants susceptible to nutritional deficiency.
Micro nutrient deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder and contributes substantially to the global burden of disease by affecting 1 in 3 people world over. Affecting a large population in developing countries, it is the only nutrient deficiency, which is also significantly prevalent in developed countries too. The numbers are staggering: 2 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population, out of which the worst hit are children. Every day, out of over 5,000 infant deaths in India, more than half die from causes related to malnutrition - mainly due to lack of nutrients like Vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc and folic acid.
Micronutrient deficiency affects brain growth and immunity of infants, and therefore it is important to ensure that the baby gets enough micronutrients in his/her daily diet. Involving fortified foods in a child’s diet is one of way of avoiding hidden hunger. Fortified foods carry all the essential micronutrients and can help in countering the perils of micronutrient deficiency.
According to National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau of India, over 50% of apparently healthy-looking children have sub clinical and biochemical deficiencies of micro-nutrients (like Vit A, B2, B12, vitamin C, iron, trace minerals like iodine, zinc, etc). Increasing dietary diversity by providing foods with adequate amounts of micro-nutrients is one of the most effective ways to prevent hidden hunger.
The percent ideal body weight index does not seem to be an adequate measure of nutritional status in children. In some cases, malnutrition is very mild and does not present any symptoms.
Moreover, malnutrition can develop over a long period of time, so the symptoms may not seem obvious in the beginning. Early detection of deficits in nutritional status may result in the adverse effects of malnutrition on height and weight, and possibly clinical status, being prevented.
In India, mothers generally focus on the physical growth of a child and not overall brain development and immunity levels. Diet normally followed in Indian households are rich in macro-nutrient supporting only physical growth but lack in micro nutrients essential for overall mental and brain development.
This translates to the fact that the child with normal height and weight may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency, which parents are not aware of. Gaps in daily nutrition with unsatisfactory nutritional quality results in nutrient deficiencies to set in at an early age.
Eating patterns built during childhood serve as a foundation for life. More than 1/3rd of child deaths occurring annually, around the world, are attributed to malnutrition, specifically under-nutrition, which weakens the body's resistance to illness. If a child is malnourished during the first 1000 days of life, the child's physical and mental growth and development is slowed. This cannot be corrected when the child is older – it affects the child for the rest of his or her life.
The role of fortified foods in overcoming micronutrient deficiency has been highlighted many times over. World Health Organization has also acknowledged the importance of fortified food products in bringing down the number of nutrient deficiency cases across the world.
Fulfilling the micronutrient requirements of infants should be addressed on a priority basis, with parents and caretakers sitting up to the fact that a healthy and nutritious diet for infant is a requisite, not occasionally, but daily.
With micronutrients producing significant public health benefits, nutrition plays a vital role in the holistic development of a child. Moreover, good nutrition signifies a food which is a powerhouse of micronutrients.
Kids are usually bustling with energy and appear to be healthy. This is because macro-nutrients are generally provided in full, especially when it comes to urban kids. However, micro-nutrients seldom receive the kind of focus and attention that is needed. It is thus important to understand the core difference between micro and macro-nutrients and work towards a healthier and fully balanced diet for your child.
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