According to the definition of Nutritional Security, “A condition arises when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that fits their daily dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” In the face of a growing population, climate change, diminishing land and water resources, environmental degradation and shifting incomes and diets, achieving nutritional security will necessitate not only more sustainable food production but also smarter food production, reduced food waste, and improved nutritional outcomes. There are many organisations that invest in and improve agricultural research, education and extension, with the goal of making breakthroughs that address these socioeconomic issues.
Obesity and diabetes are nowadays common across global communities. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle is vital. Globally, nutritional security has a 50-year history and has progressed through a series of definitions and paradigms. Following the historic Hot Spring Conference on Food and Agriculture in 1943, where the concept of a “secure, adequate and suitable supply of nutritious food for everyone” was accepted internationally, bilateral agencies from donor countries such as the United States and Canada were established in the 1950s and began to sell agricultural surplus commodities overseas.
Aspects of Food and Nutrition Security
The framework is influenced by two factors: physical and temporal. The food flow is the physical determinant: availability, accessibility and utilisation. FNS’s temporal determinant is stability, which has an impact on all three physical aspects. Availability in this context refers to the actual presence of food, whether through one’s own production or from the markets. Domestic food production, commercial food imports, food aid and domestic food stockpiles, as well as the underlying causes of each of these aspects, all contribute to food availability at the national level. The term “availability” is sometimes misunderstood, since it may apply to food supplies accessible at the home level as well as at a larger scale (regional or national). A poor state of health can be caused by a lack of access to health care as well as bad housing and environmental circumstances and can be exacerbated by malnutrition, which predisposes people to illnesses. Food alone is insufficient to ensure a long-term adequate nutritional state. Hence, other factors must be addressed. As a result, nutrition is determined by the amount of food consumed and the state of one’s health.
India’s Position Globally
The Global Indicator Framework for SDGs comprises of a set of objectives and indicators for progress in all aspects of human development, including social, economic and environmental development. It understands that ending poverty and eradicating nutritional deprivation by 2030 is only possible if other elements such as improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth and combating climate change are given equal weight. With starvation on one side and the rising burden of obesity on the other, India’s food system must do much more to ensure that people receive sufficient nourishment.
Malnutrition is a multifaceted problem in India. Stunting and wasting as well as vitamin deficiencies are prevalent at unacceptable levels. Over a third of India’s children under the age of five are stunted, more than half of those toddlers are Vitamin A deficient, and one in every two women of reproductive age is anaemic. Poor food quality is at the root of malnutrition and it correlates to six of India’s top ten disease burden causes. Food systems that influence dietary choices have not placed enough emphasis on nutritious foods. Poor food quality is at the root of malnutrition and it correlates to six of India’s top ten disease burden causes. Food systems that influence dietary choices have not placed enough emphasis on healthful foods. As a result, while food availability has grown, it has remained rather stable over the previous 50 years. Despite significant gains in agricultural output, the Indian food system still has a long way to go in terms of providing nutrition and food security.
A number of reasons contribute to the lack of nutritional variety in the foods we eat. There isn’t enough emphasis on enhancing productivity and storing mineral and vitamin-rich diets. To make matters worse, too much food, particularly fresh food is lost during storage and transport. For years, India has struggled to address the twin problems of malnutrition and obesity. Undernutrition and overnutrition coexist in India’s urban population, resulting in an unusual nutritional situation. While undernutrition causes vitamin shortages, anemia and stunted development, overnutrition is the cause of non-communicable illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes mellitus in the urban population.
In metropolitan India, around 63% of men and 72% of women work for eight hours every day. They spend most of their time sitting. Near about 28% and 21% of men and women, respectively, do not engage in any type of physical activity. People are not adhering to a normal eating, sleeping and physical exercise routine in urban areas, making them unhealthy. It has been reported by various researchers that moderate level of activity was 50%, but has dropped to 26% currently. Packed and processed foods have taken the role of traditional cuisine. At least twice a week, one-third of the population prefers to eat at a restaurant. Previously, it happened just once every two months.
The government’s focus on nutrition through the POSHAN Abhiyaan programme, which includes a commitment to nutritional outcomes, especially in aspirational areas is a focused strategy with a lot of potential. In addition, efforts are on to scale up fortification of staple foods led by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and supported by state governments, development sector organisations and technical institutions in collaboration with the private and public sector to make essential micronutrients such as vitamins A and D through fortified edible oil and milk; Vitamin B-12, iron and folic acid through fortified wheat flour and rice; and iodised salt with iron to the extent of 25-30% of the recommended daily allowances. These are established solutions for micronutrient deficiency mitigation and are especially essential during the COVID period.
The Eat Right India campaign initiated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) takes an institutional approach to encouraging eating that is safe, healthy (including fortified staples), and sustainable. The development and marketing of naturally developed mineral-rich crop types such as zinc-rich wheat and iron-rich pearl millet look to be promising. Our food testing and regulation mechanisms are still being improved further. In addition, small and medium-sized private companies, particularly in peri-urban, rural and hard-to-reach locations have considerable promise in guaranteeing access to inexpensive nutritious food. Micro-enterprises and women entrepreneurs have an extra potential to supplement rural lives by selling healthful food. “The primary causes of the prevalent NCDs are these behavioural changes that India must wake up to and communities must be made aware of the need for change. This is because excellent health and well-being are among the Sustainable Development Goals, that is all the more important for India, being one of the signatories that is working to achieve them.
(The opinions expressed by the authors in this article are based on review of scientific research carried by scholars, organisations like FAO, WHO, UN and have nothing to do with the organisation they work for)
Arpita Khare is a Research Associate-SSD at AIGGPA and Aamir Manan Deva is Advisor (SSD) Food and Consumer Affairs, Government of Madhya Pradesh,
AIGGPA, Bhopal. [email protected]