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This report provides clear evidence of the poor state of nutrition among young children, women, and men in India and the lack of progress over time, based on measurements of height and weight, anaemia testing, testing for the iodization of household cooking salt, utilization of nutrition programmes, and information on child feeding practices and vitamin A supplementation. Young children in India suffer from some of the highest levels of stunting, underweight, and wasting observed in any country in the world, and 7 out of every 10 young children are anaemic. The percentage of children under age five years who are underweight is almost 20 times as high in India as would be expected in a healthy, well-nourished population and is almost twice as high as the average percentage of underweight children in sub-Saharan African countries. Although poverty is an important factor in the poor nutrition situation, nutritional deficiencies are widespread even in households that are economically well off. Inadequate feeding practices for children make it difficult to achieve the needed improvements in children’s nutritional status, and nutrition programmes have been unable to make much headway in dealing with these serious nutritional problems.
Adults in India suffer from a dual burden of malnutrition (abnormal thinness and overweight or obesity). Almost half of Indian women age 15-49 (48 percent) and 43 percent of Indian men age 15-49 have one of these two nutritional problems. Although the percentage of women and men who are overweight or obese is not nearly as high as it is in many developed countries, this is an emerging problem in India that especially affects women and men in urban areas, those with higher educational attainment, and those living in households in the highest wealth quintile.