'Ignorance of moms, junk food causing malnutrition'

Officials of the District Malnutrition Cell claimed that rising cases of malnutrition were due frequent consumption of junk food and unawareness amongst mothers about the food consumed by their children. Officials also highlighted negligence on part of mothers in a few cases.

Up in arms: Anganwadi workers protesting poor quality of food packets given to them for children. File Pic

The supervisors for a group of about 35 anganwadis in Haveli taluka said children who travel to schools from faraway areas are often the ones who are sparsely fed. Hence, the Zilla Parishad (ZP) started providing every anganwadi with Rs 175 to conduct Mata Sabha, to educate mothers about the nutrition and other aspects of food, on a monthly-basis.

As per the report published by ZP officials giving details about malnutrition in rural areas of the district for the month of March, of the 3,31,335 children in the age group of 1 to 6 years, about 6.18 per cent — 20,065 — children are of moderate weight and 0.64 per cent —2,085 — kids are severely underweight.
“As the number of children suffering from malnutrition is relatively high, we are trying to bring it down as much as possible. We are constantly observing reasons of malnutrition at anganwadi-level and have identified causes like unawareness and negligence among mothers,” anganwadi supervisor Julekha Shaikh said.

She added that children from well-to-do families were found to be malnourished because mothers had no idea about the kind food that should be given to the kids and how many times a day. “In the cases where the women worked on farms, there was no one at home to feed their kids when they were hungry. So the children ate less and didn’t get the necessary nutrition,” Shaikh said. Another anganwadi supervisor Shobha Sinnarkar said, “Some women are so glued to television that they forget to look after their children. If the child asks for food, he is given money to buy it. These kids then end up eating junk food. This kind of unhealthy eating leads to malnutrition.” 

Commenting on the scenario, deputy chief executive officer (ZP) Nandini Ghanekar said, “Lack of information about healthy food and healthy food preparation methods lead to malnutrition in our rural and tribal areas. It was discovered that several women lacked basic knowledge of cooking meals.” 

Explaining the changes introduced by ZP at anganwadi-level to tackle malnutrition, Ghanekar said, “When the issue of malnutrition was brought to our notice, we immediately held a meeting with Manisha Lavhe, head of women and child welfare committee (ZP) and chief executive officer Anil Kawade, and decided to focus on training mothers through Mata Sabha. We are giving Rs 175 to each anganwadi to conduct the Mata Sabha every month, through which anganwadi sevikas organise various lectures and demonstration on healthy food preparation methods.”  

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