Experts Share Strategies: Engaging Adolescents in the Fight Against Malnutrition

National; 18th March 2024: As India nears its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for eliminating chronic hunger by 2030, the country has witnessed remarkable progress in the reduction of malnutrition in recent years – demonstrated by an almost 3% decrease in the percentage of children below five years of age that are stunted or chronically malnourished, according to the National Health Family Survey 5 (2019-21). Despite various efforts, malnutrition remains a consistent burden on the country: nutrition experts have pointed out that 74% of Indians have insufficient access to adequate nutrition, highlighting the widespread problem of food insecurity in the country.

To combat the nationwide challenge, experts and practitioners came together at the inaugural Nourishing Schools Foundation Nutrition Conclave, which was organized in association with the Department of Home Science at Mount Carmel College, Autonomous, Bengaluru. The forum emphasized the need for collaborative strategies to engage pre-adolescent and adolescent children in tackling malnutrition. It highlighted the significance of integrating nutrition education in the school curricula to enable children to make knowledgeable food decisions.

Noting the success of the first edition of the Nutrition Conclave, Ms. Archana Sinha, Co-founder and CEO of the Nourishing Schools Foundation (NSF), said, “We are immensely grateful to have hosted the first edition of NSF Nutrition Conclave 2024 – bringing together the country’s most distinguished changemakers in the nutrition and education sector under one roof. As we move closer towards India’s SDG target of eradicating malnutrition by 2030, Nourishing Schools Foundation envisions further collaborative initiatives to accelerate the country’s battle against chronic hunger. We are grateful to Mount Carmel College, Autonomous for collaborating with us to organize this event.”

Stressing the urgency of addressing the nutrition gap in the country, Ms. S. Veena Rao, Director of Auro Center for Public Health, Public Nutrition, Public Policy, Bangalore, and Former Advisor, Karnataka Nutrition Mission, Government of Karnataka, said, “A strong nation must have strong human capital. Much has been said about India’s demographic dividend, that 67.3% of our population is between 15-59 years of age, and that this demographic advantage will continue for another three decades. Students constitute our present and future demographic dividend and can become critical agents of change. They must be nurtured into becoming India’s strong human capital, especially those from less privileged sections of society.”

Highlighting the need for such insightful platforms, Dr K Madan Gopal, Former Senior Consultant, NITI Aayog, GOI, noted, “India has achieved remarkable strides in the battle against malnutrition, particularly in safeguarding the health of children and women, thanks to decades of dedicated policy initiatives. As we zero in on our national aspiration to eliminate malnutrition within the coming decade, we must harness our collective resolve.”

To end food insecurity and guarantee a healthier, more nourished future for every child, the Nourishing Schools Foundation aims to continue bringing together stakeholders to enhance collaborative efforts in the battle against malnutrition.

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