Tracking nutrition and health status of Indians

City-based Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) has initiated ‘Mapping of nutrition…

Tracking nutrition and health status of Indians

City-based Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) has initiated ‘Mapping of nutrition and health status – A national level participatory real-time data generation programme’ to develop a mobile-based device to be used by nutrition researchers at district level nationwide during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The mapping will be done region-wise simultaneously in collaboration with the Nutrition Society of India (NSI) and this platform will be used to collect data in future periodically too. “This will help us develop food-based strategies through inter-ministerial convergences for ensuring food and nutrition security. It includes data generation through crowdsourcing using ICMR-NIN web portal as a platform,” said NIN director R. Hemalatha.

She was speaking at the release of ‘Nutrient Requirements for Indians’ and ‘What India Eats’ report by Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan in the presence of ICMR chief Balram Bhargava in Delhi on Monday. ‘What India Eats’ had revealed a majority of the population consumed lower than recommended levels of pulses, legumes, milk, nuts and vegetables while consumption of cereals and millets was higher than recommended levels.

Dietary data analysis of adults in urban and rural India on macronutrient intakes based on household 24-hour dietary recall showed an average urban adult consumed 1943 Kcal/day, 289 g carbohydrates, 51.6 g fat and 55.4 g protein. In rural region, an average adult consumed 2081 kcal/day, 368 g of carbohydrates, 36 g of fat and 69 g of protein.

Total energy intake from cereals contributed to 998 Kcal/day, while visible fats, and pulses and legumes contributed to 265 Kcal/day and 119 Kcal/day, respectively in urban areas. In contrast, total energy intake from cereals was much higher (1358) Kcal/day, and considerably lower from fats (145 Kcal/day), pulses and legumes (144 Kcal/day) in rural areas.

Table of Contents

Dairy in diet

Milk and milk products contributed almost similar in urban (99 Kcal/day) and rural areas (87Kcal/day). Food groups recommendations state not more than 45% of energy should be contributed by cereals and millets, whereas, actual contribution was 51% in urban region and 65.2% in rural region; while pulses, legumes, meat, poultry and fish contributed to mere 11% of the total energy per day in urban areas and rural areas, as against the recommended minimum intake level of 17% of total energy from these foods.

As for milk and milk products, only 8.7% in rural and 14.3% of the population in urban areas consumed as per the recommended intakes. About 8.8% of the population in rural and 17% in urban areas consumed vegetables as per the recommended intake while 22% in rural parts and 27% in urban areas consumed the recommended intake of nuts and oil seeds.

Importantly, foods like chips, biscuits, chocolates, sweets, juices, etc., contributed to 11% energy intake per day in urban areas as compared to 4% in rural areas.

Prevalence of abdominal obesity (AOb), overweight (OW) and obesity (Ob) issues were 53.6%, 31.4% and 12.5% among urban populations, while chronic energy deficiency (CED) was 9.3%. Among rural India, the prevalence of AOb, OW and Ob were 18.8%, 16.6% and 4.9% respectively, while CED was 35.4%.

Proportion of population consuming more than recommended intakes of cereal was 97.1% in rural and 68.8% in urban region. Proportion of population consuming recommended (>66% protein from pulses, legumes, nuts, milk, flesh foods) level of good quality protein were only 5% among rural and 18% among urban people.

Low consumption of fruits and vegetables and low intake of milk and milk products increased the risk of diabetes and hypertension, respectively. Recommended intake daily is 45% of calorie/ energy intake from cereals and millets, 17% from pulses and flesh foods and 10% energy from milk and milk products for a 2000-calorie diet a day.

Food groups

‘My Plate for the Day’ developed by NIN illustrates the proportion of foods from different food groups to be sourced for a 2000 Kcal Indian diet. It recommends sourcing of macronutrients and micronutrients from minimum of eight food groups per day with vegetables, fruits, green leafy vegetables, tubers forming essentially half the plate of the recommended foods per day. The other major portion consists of cereals and millets, followed by pulses and milk/curd.

Intake of cereals should be not more than 45% of the total energy, while for pulses the recommendation is equal to 17% of the total energy/day, total fat intake is less than or equal to 30%, while milk and milk products intake should be more than or equal to 300ml/day.

Vegetables/tubers (excluding potato) intake should be 350g, while ideal consumption of fruit and nuts should be 150g and 20g per day, respectively.