Critical points to be noted regarding the Global Hunger Index, with respect to India are as follows.
- A sharp reduction in the percentage of underweight children has helped India improve its hunger record, shows the Global Hunger Index (GHI) – stats released on Oct 13, 2014.
- India now ranks 55 among 76 emerging economies, but is still trailing behind countries like Thailand, China, Ghana, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
- Between 2005 and 2014, the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five fell from 43.5% to 30.7%.
- Status of Hunger level has now changed from Alarming to Serious.
- However, India remains home to the largest number of chronically malnourished and stunted children under five, the report said. India ranked 63 last year and 65 in 2012 on the hunger index. The gauge has been released since 2006 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a global think-tank on food security, together with non-profits Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
- GHI is calculated by a simple average of three indicators: proportion of undernourished people as a percentage of the population, prevalence of underweight children under five, and mortality rate among under-five children.
- A lower GHI score implies better nutritional standard and a higher rank for a country. In the latest report, GHI scores were calculated for 120 low-income countries. Of these, 76 were ranked. The severity of hunger was found to be low (GHI score less than 5) in 44 countries. These include Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Turkey.
- India’s improved score India was able to improve its GHI score as the government rolled out and expanded several programmes after 2006 that targeted a mix of direct and indirect causes of malnutrition.
The main reasons are as follows
- a final push to expand the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme that aims to improve the health, nutrition and development of children in India and establish 1.4 million centres, and the launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), a community based outreach and facility-based health initiative to deliver essential health services to rural India.
- The rural jobs programme and reforms in the public distribution system (PDS) are other likely indirect factors that helped improve India’s hunger record.
- Another key element was the creation of a body called the commissioners to the Supreme Court on the Right to Food case, a group that supports independent monitoring of the delivery of food based programmes like the ICDS and PDS.
Although a larger proportion of the burden of hidden hunger is found in the developing world, micronutrient deficiency, particularly iron and iodine deficiency, is also widespread in the developed world. The nature of the malnutrition burden facing the world is increasingly complex. Developing countries are moving from traditional diets based on minimally processed foods to highly processed, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods and drinks, which lead to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.
- With this nutrition transition, Hidden Hunger is one of the problems many developing countries and face a phenomenon known as the ‘triple burden’ of malnutrition—undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity.
- effects of Hidden Hunger: Incidence of anaemia is 53.6% among pregnant women in India and 59% among children under five. About 62% of the population in India is vitamin A deficient and 25% is iodine deficient.
Remedial Measures to come out of the hidden hunger are.
- By diversifying diets.
- fortifying commercial foods (successfully done in iodized salt)
- bio-fortification—using conventional or transgenic methods to increase micro-nutrient content in food crops.
Cautionary Note: The report added a cautionary note that an overemphasis on high-yielding staple crops during the Green Revolution (from mid 1970s to mid 1990s) may have both improved and worsened nutrition.