HIDDEN HUNGER OF DEVELOPING WORLD – HOW TO OVERCOME IT ?
WHAT IS HIDDEN HUNGER ?
Hidden hunger is lack of vitamins and minerals. Hidden hunger occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, thus the food is deficient in micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development. About 2 billion people suffer from vitamins and mineral deficiencies. Women and children in families with low income often don’t get enough Vit A, iodine, iron, and other essential nutrients. This limits their growth, development, health and working capacity. Ensuring people get all vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients will help prevent malnutrition.
CAUSES OF HIDDEN HUNGER
- Continous consumption of high carbohydrate foods.
- Unbalanced diet.
- Lack of diversity in diet.
- Not fulfilling the increased micronutrient demand in certain period of time such as pregnancy and lactation.
NUTRIENTS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF IN HIDDEN HUNGER
- Vitamin A
CONSEQUENCES OF HIDDEN HUNGER
- BABIES = In babies, hidden hunger can result in low birth weight, higher mortality rate and impaired mental development.
- CHILDREN = Children with hidden hunger has reduced mental capacity, reduced learning capacity, higher mortality rate. They suffer from frequent infections and stunting.
- ADOLESCENTS = Adolescents with hidden hunger has reduced mental capacity, more vulnerability to infections. They may get fatigued easily.
- PREGNANT WOMEN = Pregnant women with hidden hunger has increased vulnerability and perinatal complications.
- ADULTS = Adults with hidden hunger has reduced productivity, poor socio-economic status and increased risk of chronic diseases. They also suffer from malnourishment.
- ELDERLY = Elderly with hidden hunger has increased morbidity and mortality rate. They suffer from osteoporosis and mental impairment.
HOW TO OVERCOME HIDDEN HUNGER ?
- Food Fortification
- Food Enrichment
- Dietary Diversification
Vitamins and minerals have been added to food that were not originally in the food. This is called Food fortification.
Nutrients that were lost during food processing are added back in Food enrichment.
OBJECTIVES OF FOOD FORTIFICATION AND FOOD ENRICHMENT
- To maintain the nutritional quality of foods.
- Keeping nutrient levels adequate or prevent specific nutritional deficiencies in the population at large or in groups at risk of certain deficiencies like elderly, pregnant, vegetarians etc.
- To increase the nutritional value of a product.
- To provide certain technological functions in food processing.
Increasing dietary diversity is one of the most effective ways to sustainably prevent hidden hunger. Dietary diversity is associated with better child nutritional outcomes. In the long term, it ensures a healthy diet that contains a balanced and adequate combination of macronutrients, essential micronutrients and other nutrients such as dietary fibre. Effective ways to promote dietary diversity involve food based strategies such as home gardening, educating people on better infant and young child feeding practices, food preparation and storage, preservation methods to prevent nutrient loss etc.
Thus, Government should make required efforts in the fields of food fortification, food enrichment and dietary diversification to eradicate hidden hunger from India, thus ensuring healthy, happy and productive population.
Neena’s Diet Clinic
Dietician Neena (Mscdfsm)
Course in low FODMAP diet for IBS from Monash University, Australia
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