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India’s Zero-food children

Why is it in the news?

  • A recent study published in the JAMA Network Open journal highlights the prevalence of “zero-food children” in India, indicating extreme food deprivation among infants aged six to 23 months.

More about the news

  • India ranks third globally in terms of the percentage of zero-food children, with 19.3% reported, behind only Guinea and Mali. India also has the highest absolute number of zero-food children, exceeding six million.
  • Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) stands out as a significant contributor to this issue, with 28.4% of zero-food children in India being from this state, according to a study published in eClinical Medicine.
  • Breastfeeding alone cannot provide sufficient nutrition for infants beyond six months, emphasizing the importance of introducing solid or semi-solid foods alongside breastfeeding to support early childhood growth and development.
  • Factors contributing to the prevalence of zero-food children include poverty, marginalization, rapid urbanization, and the trend towards nuclear families, which result in insufficient time and resources for feeding infants adequately.
  • Lack of awareness about the nutritional needs of children and social misconceptions further exacerbate the problem, highlighting the need for targeted interventions and awareness campaigns.
  • Government initiatives such as the Poshan Abhiyan primarily focus on children aged 0-6 years but may not adequately address the nutritional needs of infants aged six to 23 months.

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