NFHS data on diet practices should lead to more informed debate on nutrition, remove blinkers of policymakers

NFHS data on diet practices should lead to more informed debate on nutrition, remove blinkers of policymakers

Data from the recently-released National Health and Family Survey (NFHS-5) confirms the speculation of a sizeable part of diet students. The variety of Indians who eat non-vegetarian meals has been growing steadily. More than two-thirds of individuals within the 15-49 age group eat non-vegetarian food daily, weekly or occasionally — a gradual rise in comparison with NHFS-4 when the determine stood at a little bit over 70 per cent individuals. The survey’s newest version additionally exhibits that extra individuals within the nation eat meat a minimum of as soon as per week in comparison with 2015-16. The proportion of Indians who eat eggs too has gone up appreciably. The survey’s information on dietary practices, nonetheless, exhibits a definite gender skew: The enhance within the variety of males consuming non-vegetarian meals is way extra pronounced in comparison with ladies. All this has important implications for planning on nutrition-related issues — it’s particularly salutary for policymakers who obstinately maintain on to the stereotype of India being a rustic of vegetarians.

In India, meals practices have been, for lengthy, knowledgeable by advanced guidelines of faith and caste. In latest instances, these habits have change into a part of the nation’s political discourses in ways in which have bred acrimony between social teams and stoked violence in opposition to minorities. The fable of the vegetarian nation has additionally influenced coverage issues corresponding to serving eggs within the mid-day meal scheme for kids attending authorities and government-aided faculties. Barely a 3rd of the states present eggs to kids beneath the scheme regardless of the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition — it really works beneath the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research — certifying that eggs are loaded with extra vitamins and simpler to obtain in comparison with options corresponding to milk and bananas.

In 2011, the National Sample Survey information revealed the declining protein consumption of Indians. This was confirmed, in 2019, by the EAT-Lancet Commission Study on Sustainable Food Systems, which identified that Indians eat extra easy carbohydrates than proteins in addition to much less advanced carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit. Given that non-vegetarian diets are protein-rich, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that restrictions on consuming meat and eggs may enhance the dietary deficits of a bit of the nation’s inhabitants — a worrying proposition given India’s poor report card in repeated Global Hunger Index surveys. In truth, the gender disparities within the consumption of non-vegetarian meals, highlighted by the NFHS-5, ought to make policymakers revisit the debates on lowering the protein deficit of the nation’s ladies. Hanging on to facile stereotypes will do extra hurt than good.

This editorial first appeared within the print version on May 18, 2022 beneath the title ‘Meat of the matter’.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Adrian

Leave a Reply