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Combatting Hidden Hunger: India's Fortification Journey



  Sep 22, 2023

Hidden Hunger and Rice Fortification



Hidden Hunger Definition:

Refers to micronutrient deficiency-induced malnutrition, often concealed until clinical signs of deficiency appear, affecting both children and adults.

Consequences:

Includes birth defects, cognitive impairments, maternal and infant mortality, childhood blindness, and reduced productivity.

Hunger in India:

Despite a decline, around 194 million people were undernourished in India during 2016-18.

Nutrition in Aspirational Districts:

Only about 12.32% of children aged 6-23 months in Aspirational Districts receive adequate nutrition.

Dietary Habits:

Calorie consumption in India falls below recommended levels, with a preference for whole grains over fruits and vegetables. Protein intake is inadequate.

Food Fortification:

India has embraced food fortification to address hidden hunger, adding essential nutrients to staples like rice and wheat.

Government Initiatives:

The government aims to fortify rice in all social safety net schemes by 2024, with costs covered by the government. It's implemented in phases.

FSSAI and Fortification Standards:

In 2016, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) established fortification standards for various staples and introduced the 'F+' logo.

Cost-Effectiveness:

Rice fortification's cost varies based on factors like industry structure and supply chain complexity.

Challenges:

Challenges include raising awareness, cost management, ensuring widespread availability, and better stakeholder coordination.

Importance of Food Fortification:

Food fortification is a pivotal measure to improve the health of India's population and eradicate nutritional deficiencies, given its young demographic profile.


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