Bangalore: Increasing prices of food have been found to be a direct contributor to malnutrition. As per a survey around 90 percent of stunted children live in 36 countries including India, which are most exposed to food price spikes, as reported by Kounteya Sinha for TNN.
Further, households on an average spend over 30 percent of their incomes on food in the 36 high-burden countries, with the poorest groups regularly spending a greater proportion.
All except three of these countries are not food importers. Families in these countries spend high amount of their income on food (30 -55 percent), with the poorest spending as much as 80 percent.
The report said "Therefore, in both urban and rural areas, poor people who buy (rather than produce) their food tend to switch to cheaper, often less preferred or lower quality staples, which have a lower nutrient content, buy less food, skip meals or reduce their overall food intake, with consequent reductions in their intake of energy, protein and micronutrients, decrease their intake of fruit and vegetables, use different ingredients and cooking methods often sacrificing intake of animal source foods and vegetables and substituting them with non-nutritious spices and artificial flavouring," as reported by TOI. The report further added "They also modify the allocation of food within the household, with mothers going without food in order to maintain their children's dietary intake."
It was seen that the average prevalence of underweight in nations identified as 'exposed' to food price volatility is 23 percent. In 'highly-exposed' countries, it is even higher at 26 percent. The increase in food prices in 2008 is anticipated to have pushed an additional 105 million people below the poverty line. In February last year when food prices again reached their 2008 peak, an additional 48 million people fell below the poverty line.
The report said that "The most immediate are dietary intake and exposure to disease. Good nutrition means more than simply getting enough food. Families must be able to grow or buy food containing all the energy and nutrients they need. Rising and volatile global food prices are pushing nutritious foods out of the reach of poor people. The resultant increase in malnutrition will have long-term effects on children," as reported by TOI.
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