Home / Economy / ‘10% of Indians have faced food insecurity’

NEW DELHI : Around 10% of Indians have experienced food insecurity ranging from mild to moderate and severe categories, a study by the Public Health Foundation of India has found.

A total of 9,005 adults living in Sonipat in Haryana and Vizag in Andhra Pradesh were studied for their dietary intake during October 2018-February 2019. One of the key findings of the study is the effect of gender on the food insecurity experience, as women reported higher food insecurity than men. Haryana ranks 12th and Andhra Pradesh 27th among Indian states in the government’s Human Development Index.

The study found women, especially from rural areas had lower consumption of nutrient-rich foods such as dairy, fruits, vegetables and non-vegetarian foods. The findings warrant gender sensitive policies to ensure that all have equal access to nutrient-rich diets, calling for regular monitoring of the food insecurity situation in India.

“About 10% of the participants experienced food insecurity. Women were more likely to report food insecurity than men. Rural residents had higher food insecurity compared to their urban counterparts. Women participants from Vizag reported significantly higher food insecurity compared to those in Sonipat," said Dr Sailesh Mohan at PHFI, one of the authors of the study.

“We think that there are some gender dimensions at play which might be one reason to limit food access to women within the households. Essentially, women tend to prioritise food for their male members and children in the family. We have also highlighted that people in so-called economically progressive states are facing some kind of food insecurities," said Dr Mohan.

Despite being among the fastest growing economies and ranking second worldwide in farm output, India is ranked 107 out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger index.

Besides this, scientists conducted individual food consumption survey to assess the quality of diet and found that individual’s dietary diversity score was low and consumption of starchy staples was high and intake of legumes, vitamin A and C-rich fruits and vegetables was low. In Vizag, men consumed nonvegetarian foods in higher proportions than women.

It shows that India is still lagging behind when it comes to meeting hunger-related United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals.

“We also lose a lot of what we produce. During the transportation getting it from farm to plate. In the study we have seen that dietary diversity those who produce the food especially farmers are not that great. Consumption of starchy food was more as compared with fruits and green vegetables. We need to improve the dietary diversity and reduce the intake of starchy calorie rich food. The other thing is that we need to minimize the wastage of food and government should monitor the issue of food insecurity so that they can remedial actions.

Priyanka Sharma
Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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