A country with 1.3 billion people faces many challenges and it is hard to keep all mouths to feed and all mouths to satisfy. With high level of poverty and handful of resources, India’s responsibility to feed the weak and the poor is something we just cannot over look.
In 2018, three sisters of age 2, 4 and 8 from Delhi died due to severe malnutrition. In Jharkhand, 52 infants died over a period of 30 days in Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in 2017.
There are places in India where children are getting sufficient food but not sufficient nutrition. Even in well to do families, hidden hunger is an issue which needs immediate attention. Here is when food fortification comes into play.
What is Food Fortification?
Fortified foods are those that have nutrients added to them that don’t naturally occur in the food. These foods are meant to improve nutrition and add health benefits. For example, milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and calcium may be added to fruit juices.
Importance of Food Fortification
It is generally not realized by most of the people that feeding food to satisfy hunger is one thing but feeding quality food is another complexity. Our food must contain micronutrients, vitamins and minerals like Iron, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid in our diet. Even if food is enough the satisfy our hunger, there might be a lack of vitamins and minerals which is termed as ‘hidden hunger’ by World Health Organization (WHO). Thus when the quality of food eaten does not content the proper nutrients this hidden hunger persists and health takes a toll.
IMPORTANCE OF HIDDEN HUNGER
Threat of improper diet leads to many serious consequences which are extremely hard to detect. Micronutrient deficiency disease compromises immune system of our body. It not only affecting mortality rates in pregnant lactating women and infants but it also affects mental and physical retardation in children and so on so forth. Lacking in essential vitamins and minerals can have dire effects on many especially in women and in newborn. In this scenario child health and survival are particularly adversely affected within the first 1000 days of a child’s life. This can result in serious physical and cognitive consequences as well as working efficiency. Mostly children, adolescent, as well as pregnant women are affected but generally people of all age group throughout the lifecycle are adversely affected by it.
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SATSFY THE HIDDEN HUNGER FOR FOOD SECURITY
Hidden hunger affects the overall well-being and health and this in turn reflects in the slow socio-economic development. Some unseen effects of micronutrient deficiencies are Lack of Iodine, Iron and zinc causing enlargement of thyroid gland, Deficiency of vitamin A is the root cause of night blindness. Low intake of essential micronutrients– Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B ( Folate ).
Our age old tradition of Indian food is according to preferences shaped by culture, geographical environment, seasonal factors and by peer pressure. It mainly comprises wheat, rice, maize to some extent, and cassava. These grains are considered as staple food providing a large share of energy and they are hunger satisfying. But they contain low amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. To break this barrier, food fortification aims at ways to optimize the bioavailability of interesting micronutrients to consumers and most importantly to the people in need.
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Extra set of helping hands never hurt anyone. In today’s age, with everyone surrounded by too much wealth, a picture of starving children can overwhelm many hearts but there are very less people who are willing to give it a thought and take action. In a free world, a basic necessity to eat and survive is a right that should be enjoyed by everyone. In a country like India, even a single child starving to death is a shame and a sad truth. Actions are being taken, policies are being made, the central government is planning to fortify rice with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12. The revolution is not rapid but the change has begun.
As long as we don’t lose lives in the system, the world eagerly waits for this. As every life matters, every life counts.
SATSFY THE HIDDEN HUNGER FOR FOOD SECURITY
Author: Amey Sharma
Category: Science & Technology