Nourishment Challenges in India: Addressing Malnutrition

  Aug 17, 2023

Malnutrition in India

Protein Deficiency Problems and Solution

Protein deficiency is a prevalent issue in India, with nearly 80% of the population failing to meet their daily protein requirements. Additionally, a lack of awareness about protein needs is widespread, as around 90% of Indians are unaware of their daily protein requirements. This deficiency can lead to various health problems, and despite the availability of information on the internet, misconceptions about protein sources and their significance contribute to the problem.
Protein's role extends beyond just muscle building, and it is involved in almost every function of the human body. However, many only associate it with muscle development. Protein deficiency can manifest in health issues like low energy levels, fatigue, weakness, and frequent illnesses. Proteins play a critical role in brain function, metabolism boost, injury recovery, maintaining overall body health, and promoting a sense of fullness.
To address this issue, it's crucial to understand the recommended protein consumption and dietary sources for maintaining fitness and health. Depending on factors such as age, gender, activity levels, and clinical conditions, a general guideline is to consume around 1.4 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for men and 1 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight for women. It's essential to note that not all proteins are equal, as their bioavailability and amino acid profiles differ, making some sources more beneficial than others.
Proteins consist of amino acids, including essential and non-essential types. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet. For complete protein sources, which contain all essential amino acids, individuals need to be mindful of their food choices. This can be particularly challenging for vegetarians and vegans.

To help individuals meet their daily protein needs, here are 10 protein-rich foods along with their protein content:

Food Protein Content (per 100g)
Meat 20-24g
Paneer (Cottage Cheese) 24g
3 Whole Eggs 18g
Soya Chunk 52g
Soya Bean (White) 38g
Soya Bean (Brown) 35g
Hemp Seeds 10g
Pistachios 7g
Watermelon Seeds 10g
Cow’s Milk 10g

Combining these protein sources in various ways can help individuals meet their daily protein requirements. Incorporating sufficient protein into one's diet can aid in weight loss, boost energy levels, stabilize blood sugar, accelerate recovery, and reduce vulnerability to weakness and frequent illnesses.

Addressing Nutrition Challenges in India: Government Initiatives

1. Subsidized Food Grains: Public Distribution System (PDS) provides subsidized rice, wheat, and millets to economically disadvantaged citizens under the National Food Security Act. However, protein supplementation falls short of recommended levels due to lack of availability, affordability, and awareness about protein-rich foods.
2. Safety Net Programs: The government has implemented safety net programs like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM) to improve nutrition. ICDS offers children 500 kcal and 12-15g protein daily, while adolescent girls receive up to 25g protein. School meals provide 300 kcal and 8-12g protein daily.
3. Pandemic Relief Package: In response to the pandemic's impact, the government introduced the Garib Kalyan Yojana with an additional Rs. 22.6 billion relief package. This includes 5 kg of rice or wheat and 1 kg of preferred pulses per month.
4. Implementation Challenges: Effective implementation of nutrition programs remains a challenge, hindering the reach of benefits to intended beneficiaries. Availability, distribution, and accessibility issues need to be addressed for better impact.


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