State of Food Security and Nutrition
Source: Asian Development Bank

A new publication (published by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WHO, and WFP) reports that, following on two decades of declining hunger, the number of chronically undernourished people in the world increased to 815 million in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015. Approximately 190 million of these people live in India, according to the report.

The 2017 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World focuses on monitoring progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically the SDGs aimed at ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition (SDG Targets 2.1 and 2.2). The report looks at a number of indicators – including prevalence of undernourishment, child undernourishment, child stunting and wasting, overweight and obesity, and anemia among women of reproductive age – at the country and regional level.

India’s prevalence of undernourishment as a share of its total population declined between 2004-2006 and 2014-2016, from 20.5 percent to 14.5 percent. However, as mentioned before, this still leaves around 190 million Indians chronically undernourished. Twenty-one percent of India’s children under five years of age suffer from wasting, while 38.4 percent of children under five are stunted; however, child stunting rates have decreased by 9.5 percent since 2005.

The prevalence of obesity in India’s adult population is on the rise, increasing from 2.1 percent in 2005 to 3.6 percent in 2015. However, the number of women of reproductive age suffering from anemia has declined slightly, from 53.2 in 2005 to 51.4 in 2016. In additional positive news, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding has increased significantly, from 46.4 percent in 2005 to 64.9 percent in 2015.

The data from India indicate that, despite some progress, the country continues to simultaneously suffer from various forms of malnutrition, including child undernutrition, obesity, and micronutrient deficiency. The results are in line with a similar study conducted by POSHAN, which found that nutrition and health outcomes for women and children vary considerably from state to state. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report differs from the Global Hunger Index (released annually by IFPRI, Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe), which is a weighted index that combines a number of food security indicators (prevalence of undernourishment, wasting in children under five years of age, stunting in children under five years of age, and mortality rates among children under five years of age).

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Asian Development Bank