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Global Hunger Index: More and more Indian children weigh too little for their heigh

Global Hunger Index: More and more Indian children weigh too little for their heigh


In the newly released Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranked 100th of 119 countries (In comparison, India stood 97th in 2016)

A major reason for this is the fact that one in every five children under the age of 5 is wasted.

• Wasting indicates low weight for height.


• India’s 2017 GHI score is at the high end of the under-5 child wasting.

• According to GHI, India is one of the few countries that have made no strides over the last 25 years in checking the wasting in under-5 children.

• The data shows that India’s performance is worse than its neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Other Details:

• The data analysed for each country to arrive at the 2017 GHI score pertains to the period 2012-16.

• The 2017 GHI has been jointly published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe.

Factors of hunger:

• According to Global Hunger Index (GHI), there are four indicators to capture the multidimensional nature of hunger. They are:

1. Undernourishment (share of the population with insufficient calorific intake)

• It refers to the proportion of the population whose dietary energy consumption is less than a pre-determined threshold.

2. Under-5 child wasting (low weight for height)

• Wasting or thinness indicates a recent and severe process of weight loss.

• It is often associated with acute starvation and/or severe disease.

3. Under-5 child stunting (low height for age)

• Stunted growth reflects a process of failure to reach linear growth potential as a result of suboptimal health and/or nutritional conditions.

• High levels of stunting are associated with poor socioeconomic conditions.

4. Under-5 child mortality

• Child mortality is the probability per 1,000 live births that a newborn baby will die before reaching age five.

Causes of Wasting:

• Child wasting reflects acute under-nutrition.

• It is mainly caused by:

1. Prolonged period of poor diet

2. Repeated illnesses

3. Poor sanitation

Areas of concern:

1. The timely introduction of complementary foods for young children that is, the transition away from exclusive breastfeeding.

2. Household access to improved sanitation facilities which isa likely factor in child health and nutrition.

GHI shows progress on stunting, but wasting remains a concern:

• India’s overall GHI score has improved from 38.2 in 2000 to 31.4 in 2017, which is slightly better than only Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia.

• In India, wasting has increased from 17.1% in 1998-02 to 21% in 2012-16.

• This is way above the global data: 9.5% of all under-5 children suffer from wasting.

• India has reported an improvement on child stunting.

• The report indicates that the child stunting rate has gone down from 61.9% in 1992 to 38.4% in 2017. But even this progress leaves India with a relatively high stunting rate.

• While the improvement on the child stunting rate shows that children are born in a better condition than before, the high wasting rate shows neglect in the first two years in terms of infant feeding, sanitation, and overall environment.


• High GDP growth rate alone is no guarantee of food and nutrition security for India’s vast majority.

• Even with massive scale-up of two national nutrition programmes, the Integrated Child Development Services and the National Health Mission, there is failure to achieve adequate coverage.

• Drought and structural deficiencies have left a large number of poor in India at risk of malnourishment in 2017

• Inequality in all its forms must be addressed to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of Zero Hunger for everyone by 2030.