Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is India a Nutritional Weakling?

While researching the causes of the sugar crisis in Pakistan earlier this month, I found that, on a per capita basis, Pakistanis consume significantly more of almost everything they eat than their neighbors, including wheat, dairy, meat, poultry and sugar. The only comparable category between Indians and Pakistanis are fruits and vegetables, of which both use less than 100 grams a day.

This was before the shameful deaths of several destitute Karachi women scrambling to grab free wheat bags stole the headlines.

In spite of the fact that there is about 22% malnutrition in Pakistan and the child malnutrition being much higher at 40% (versus India's 46%), the average per capita calorie intake of about 2500 calories is within normal range. But the nutritional balance necessary for good health appears to be lacking in Pakistanis' dietary habits. One way to alleviate the sugar crisis in Pakistan is to reduce sugar consumption and substitute it with greater intake of fruits and vegetables. There is an urgent need for better health and nutritional education through strong public-private partnership to promote healthier eating in Pakistan.

Among other basic food commodities, per million population wheat consumption in Pakistan is 115,000 metric tons versus 63,000 metric tons in India, according to published data.

Pakistanis consume over 25 Kg of sugar per person versus India's 20Kg.

According to the FAO, the average dairy consumption of the developing countries is still very low (45 kg of all dairy products in liquid milk equivalent), compared with the average of 220 kg in the industrial countries. Few developing countries have per capita consumption exceeding 150 kg (Argentina, Uruguay and some pastoral countries in the Sudano-Sahelian zone of Africa). Among the most populous countries, only Pakistan, at 153 kg per capita, has such a level. In South Asia, where milk and dairy products are preferred foods, India has only 64 kg and Bangladesh 14 kg. East Asia has only 10 kg.

While it remains very low by world standards, meat and poultry consumption has also increased significantly in Pakistan over the last decade. Per capita availability of eggs went from 23 in 1991 to 43 in 2005, according to research by N. Daghir. Per capita meat consumption in Pakistan now stands at 12.4 Kg versus India's 4.6 Kg.

In addition to relatively large per capita wheat and sugar consumption, Pakistanis also consume significantly higher amounts of meat, poultry and milk products than other South Asian nations, getting more protein and almost half their daily, per capita calorie intake from non-food-grain sources.

About two weeks after the widely reported wheat deaths in Karachi, there is a new damning British report about the serious malnutrition affecting Indian children.

The new British government report on child hunger and malnutrition in India says the nation is an "economic powerhouse" but a "nutritional weakling". Here is an excerpt from Times online story:

India is condemning another generation to brain damage, poor education and early death by failing to meet its targets for tackling the malnutrition that affects almost half of its children, a study backed by the British Government concluded yesterday.

The country is an “economic powerhouse but a nutritional weakling”, said the report by the British-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS), which incorporated papers by more than 20 India analysts. It said that despite India’s recent economic boom, at least 46 per cent of children up to the age of 3 still suffer from malnutrition, making the country home to a third of the world’s malnourished children. The UN defines malnutrition as a state in which an individual can no longer maintain natural bodily capacities such as growth, pregnancy, lactation, learning abilities, physical work and resisting and recovering from disease.

In 2001, India committed to the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving its number of hungry by 2015. China has already met its target. India, though, will not meet its goal until 2043, based on its current rate of progress, the IDS report concluded.

“It’s the contrast between India’s fantastic economic growth and its persistent malnutrition which is so shocking,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the IDS, told The Times. He said that an average of 6,000 children died every day in India; 2,000-3,000 of them from malnutrition.


Related Links:

FAO Statistics

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Pakistan's Sugar Crisis

Agricultural Diversification in South Asia

Nutrition in Pakistan

FAO Report on Food Consumption Patterns

Global Hunger Index Report 2009

Wheat Consumption in India and Pakistan

World of Sugar

Pakistan's Livestock Farming

28 comments:

TambiDude said...

Another earth shattering news which Pakistanis need to show so that they can feel better about the existence of their country.

Nutritionally weak indians have left them far behind in knowledge based economy and in science and technology - that is the bitter truth.

Anonymous said...

Riaz

Average does not give any meaning as far as poverty is concerned.

I really would not know what would be these number in the light of the civil war which is going in pakistan on behalf of usa.

However the article and the reference are good for reference.

Riaz Haq said...

ThambiDude, "Nutritionally weak indians have left them far behind in knowledge based economy and in science and technology - that is the bitter truth."

First of all, your assertion about "indians have left them far behind in knowledge based economy and in science and technology " is mostly false. With the exception of a few Indians who have had foreign training (just as some Pakistanis have had the same training and experience in US), most Indians in technology are essentially code coolies, performing low-level repetitive engineering tasks, not serious R&D.
Second, even if I accept your argument of superiority over Pakistanis, what good is that superiority if you are "condemning another generation to brain damage, poor education and early death by failing to meet its targets for tackling the malnutrition that affects almost half of its children".

Raju said...

Riaz: "what good is that superiority if you are condemning another generation to brain damage, poor education and early death by failing to meet its targets for tackling the malnutrition that affects almost half of its children"

Have ever heard of Mid-day Meal Scheme in India. For God sake, it is covering more than 120 million children (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-day_Meal_Scheme). Please stop spreading hatred between India and Pakistan. Enough has been said about both these countries and people on both the sides have suffered a lot. Stop wasting your precious time bashing India and infact you can use that time to write about how to alleviate the pain of millions of refugees in Pakistan who are in need of urgent help.

Thanks

Raju said...

Forgot to add my ramadan wishes to you and all muslim bretheren in my previous post. EID MUBARAK :)

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "Please stop spreading hatred between India and Pakistan."

Why should blogging about serious issues of poverty and malnutrition cause hatred? Why can't we face reality?

Raju: "Stop wasting your precious time bashing India and infact you can use that time to write about how to alleviate the pain of millions of refugees in Pakistan who are in need of urgent help."

I don't see this as wasting my time. I do write about issues in Pakistan as well.

As to your reference to Swat refuges, it is an extraordinary situation which is being seriously addressed by many in Pakistan. But the problem of malnourished children in India is a chronic problem that remains largely un-addressed, to the detriment of the weakest members of Indian society. It is shameful for a democracy to leave so many behind.

Raju said...

Riaz: "Why should blogging about serious issues of poverty and malnutrition cause hatred? Why can't we face reality?"

I am not implying that we have to turn away from reality. Your blog would have been very appreciative if you included what are the steps being taken by Indian authorities and what are the shortcomings of those programs. The program which I was talking about is covering almost one third of the children in India which is a very big number. Starting and continuing a program which feeds ONE-THIRD of the Indian children will not come into the category of "largely un-addressed issue".

Riaz: "As to your reference to Swat refuges, it is an extraordinary situation which is being seriously addressed by many in Pakistan"

I am sorry, I could not find a detailed article about refugees in your very very very famous blog. I would be very happy if YOU first concentrate on serious issues like refugees, female education and human rights violation in swat. Eagerly waiting for one of such article from you :). Once you are satisfied that you have dealt with these very important issues then you can worry about your near and dear Indians. Please leave Indians to their fate.

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "I am sorry, I could not find a detailed article about refugees in your very very very famous blog. I would be very happy if YOU first concentrate on serious issues ..."

I write about the subjects that I find relevant, important and interesting to me. If you bother to read more of my blog posts, you will find plenty of criticism of Pakistan's failings.

Raju said...

Riaz: "I write about the subjects that I find relevant, important and interesting to me"

What a pity Mr. Riaz, important issues like refugees, female education and human riots violation in SWAT do not come under "relevant, important and interesting" category for you. UNESCO and many other aid organizations have been worried about these issues since ages. Then how come nutrition and higher education specially in India are in your "relevant, important and interesting" category ???

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "What a pity Mr. Riaz, important issues like refugees, female education and human riots violation in SWAT do not come under "relevant, important and interesting" category for you."

Did I say I haven't written any of these subjects? Of course, I have. I suggest you take the time to read what I have written about status of women, poverty, children's plight and human abuses in both India and Pakistan.

As to the your exaggerated concern for Swat refugees, let me assure you that they are being taken care of much better than most Indians on a normal day (without any disasters), just look at their faces, and you'll see they are better fed, clothed and housed than their Indian counterparts anywhere in India, in Gujarat and elsewhere who have been languishing in refugee camps years after the Gujarat massacre of thousands of Muslims. You too can read about it on my blog.

Raju said...

I agree that VERY VERY BAD AND HEINOUS things have happened in Gujarat and I am ASHAMED about it. But you got to be out of your mind Mr. Riaz. You are comparing the citizens of Gujarat to the swat refugees.

I dont want to be dragged into same old bull crap of India Bad Vs Pakistan Bad stuff.

Eid Mubarak to you. May God help both Pakistanis and Indians prosper and be in good terms with each other and I am sure this will be a reality in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Indian elites are completely disconnected with population. Pakistan should try to follow china model.

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "But you got to be out of your mind Mr. Riaz. You are comparing the citizens of Gujarat to the swat refugees."

Well, the truth is that Swati refugees have fared much better than Muslims in Gujarat. At least the Sawtis are returning home. Unfortunately, most the Gujarati Muslims in India are still languishing in refugee camps seven years after the the mass murder organized by Chief Minister Modi of Gujarat.

As Indian writer Pankaj Mishra wrote last year "To take one example, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes."

Riaz Haq said...

Raju: "Forgot to add my ramadan wishes to you and all muslim bretheren in my previous post. EID MUBARAK :)"

Thank you, Raju. I hope Diwali brings you and your family a lot of happiness and prosperity.

Anonymous said...

Raju - Thanks for your exceptionally nice comments and arguments. Your arguments were not, but your attitude was strong. May we all celebrate our festivals with peace and harmony.

I know that Riaz likes touching on sensitive topics and i too think that he is stirring things up..but its about time that we all get beyond getting too sensitive with each other...and take part in dialog.

M. said...

Hi,

Interesting article. However some remarks:

1. I would expect meat and poultry consumption to be low in India; most people tend to be vegetarian over here.

2. Likewise with wheat consumption: rice forms the staple diet for people across south and east India.

3. wrt TambiDude's comments and your response: While I see his comments as a typical Indian reaction to such write ups, your response is not very informed either.
Its probably true that a lot of the IT work in India may be using 'code coolies', but they are not all foriegn trained. The foriegn trained ones usually stayed back in the west, like yourself. Its only in the recent past, many of them have started returning to India. There is a lot of other work going on in India - like chip design or SoC architectures, by MNCs like TI, NXP, Freescale and local ones Taslima, Ittiam, etc. If India offered only cheap code coolies, this would not have been possible. Neverthless, while the IT sector is the most visible aspect of the tech sector in India; its not the only one. Chandrayaan's short life not withstanding, how many satellites has Pakistan launched for studying the earth or the moon? What about other sectors: How many Pakistani companies make cars or buses- and I mean locally grown companies not western MNCs or Chinese ones? How many make ships or submarines? You get the general idea.

But none of this takes away the essence of your article. The fact remains there are two Indias - one of which is shining, as the now debunked campaign said.
The other however is struggling.

However I remain optimistic.

Regards,
M.

Riaz Haq said...

M: "But none of this takes away the essence of your article. The fact remains there are two Indias - one of which is shining, as the now debunked campaign said.
The other however is struggling."

I appreciate your balanced response to the article. Please note that I quote (and I agree with) in the article as follows:

"It’s the contrast between India’s fantastic economic growth and its persistent malnutrition which is so shocking,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the IDS, told The Times. He said that an average of 6,000 children died every day in India; 2,000-3,000 of them from malnutrition.

I have written other blog posts praising India's undeniable achievements and I have also talked about the tale of two Indias on my blog.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC website has a pictorial today of charities feeding the poor. One picture shows the big kitchen of one charity alone that feeds 40,000 people every day in Karachi.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8338407.stm

Riaz Haq said...

India ranks 67, far worse than Pakistan's ranking of 52 on the world hunger index 2010 report published recently, according to a Times of India report.

China is ranked well ahead of India and Pakistan at the ninth place, while Pakistan is at the 52nd place on the 2010 Global Hunger Index, released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in association with a German group Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

In India, the high Index scores are driven by high levels of child underweight resulting from the low nutritional and social status of women in the country, the report pointed out, adding that India alone accounts for a large share of the world's undernourished children, the IFPRI report said.

India is home to 42% of the world's underweight children, while Pakistan has just 5%, it added.

Among other neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka was at the 39th position and Nepal ranked 56 by index. Bangladesh listed at the 68th position.

"The economic performance and hunger levels are inversely correlated. In South and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Timor-Leste are among countries with hunger levels considerably higher than their gross national income (GNI) per capita," the IFPRI report said.

"Undernutrition in the first two years of life threatens a child's life and can jeopardise physical, motor and cognitive development. It is therefore of particular importance that we take concerted action to combat hunger, especially among young children," the report stressed.

It further said that the global food security is under stress. Although the world's leaders, through the first Millennium Development Goal, adopted a goal of halving the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015, "we are nowhere near meeting that target."

"The 2010 world Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows some improvement over the 1990 world GHI, falling from 19.8 points to 15.1 or by almost one-quarter. The index for hunger in the world, however, remains serious," it noted.

In recent years, however, the number of hungry people has actually been increasing. In 2009, on the heels of a global food price crisis and in the midst of worldwide recession, the number of undernourished peopled surpassed one billion, although recent estimates by the UN body Food and Agriculture Organisation suggest that the number will have dropped to 925 million in 2010, it added.

Read more: India ranks below China, Pak in global hunger index - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-ranks-below-China-Pak-in-global-hunger-index/articleshow/6728259.cms#ixzz12CoXFD6s

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an IANS report on "The dark side of India's economic growth" leading to growing hunger and malnutrition in India:


New Delhi: A more inclusive growth policy targeted at marginalised communities and protection of their basic rights is required to combat hunger in India, international NGO ActionAid said.

"The dark side of India's economic growth is the fact that the poor have been dispossessed further, leading to malnutrition, hunger and starvation deaths," Sandeep Chachra, executive director of ActionAid India said here.


The International Food Policy Research Institute has ranked India 67th on the global hunger index, way below its neighbours China and Pakistan.

In a hunger score card released before the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters at New York in September, ActionAid said that while India's per capita income had tripled between 1990 and 2005, the number of chronically hungry had not reduced, standing at a staggering 270 million.

At this rate, India cannot halve its number of those starving until 2083, the report said.

"Implementation remains a massive challenge. Food and other entitlements have to be delivered on the ground, which requires greater political will," Amar Joyti Nayak, thematic head for food rights for ActionAid India, said.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^^^Among other basic food commodities, per million population wheat consumption in Pakistan is 115,000 metric tons versus 63,000 metric tons in India, according to....

----------------------------
They eat a lot of Rice in their Southern & Eastern (like Bangalees) regions.

Look at Rice AND Wheat:

http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/in-india/agr-agriculture&all=1

http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/pk-pakistan/agr-agriculture&all=1



HopeWins Junior said...

^^^^^Per capita meat consumption in Pakistan now stands at 12.4 Kg versus India's 4.6 Kg

---------------------------

What is the per capita pulses consumption in the two countries?

In other words, how to the Dal-Khor Pakistanis compare to the Dal-Khor Indians?

http://agriexchange.apeda.gov.in/MarketReport/Reports/Pakistan_pulses_report.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "how to the Dal-Khor Pakistanis compare to the Dal-Khor Indians?"

Per capita pulses consumed in Pakistan is 6.57 Kg vs 11.68 Kg in India.

Look at table 15 of "Global and Regional Trends in Production, Trade and Consumption of Food Legume Crops".

http://impact.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/images/Legumetrendsv2.pdf

HopeWins Junior said...

^^^^^^^^^Per capita meat consumption in Pakistan now stands at 12.4 Kg versus India's 4.6 Kg

Per capita pulses consumed in Pakistan is 6.57 Kg vs 11.68 Kg in India.

-------------------------

So assuming similar protein content (typical 25%) for both meat and pulses, and neglecting milk because it is only 3% protein, we get the following:

India: 4.6 + 11.7 = 16.3
Pakistan: 12.4 + 6.6 = 19.0

OMG! We are so big and strong. The Indians are just little runts....

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "So assuming similar protein content (typical 25%) for both meat and pulses, and neglecting milk because it is only 3% protein"

It's not just the quantity but the quality of protein that matters particularly for children.

Many plant sources contain as much protein as meat, but still lack key amino acids. A 3 oz. serving of beef contains between 20 and 25 g of protein, while a 3 oz. serving of salmon contains 16.9g. Of lower-quality plant sources, soy is the most biologically complete. Soy protein and beans have about 22g of protein per serving, while peanuts have about 40g.

So the only non-animal protein comparable to meat protein in quality is from soya beans which Indians do not eat much of.

As to milk, it's an important source of calcium which is very important for skeletal growth and health.

HopeWins Junior said...

^^^^^^It's not just the quantity but the quality of protein that matters particularly for children.

Many plant sources contain as much protein as meat, but still lack key amino acids. A 3 oz. serving of beef contains between 20 and 25 g of protein, while a 3 oz. serving of salmon contains 16.9g.

Of lower-quality plant sources, soy is the most biologically complete. Soy protein and beans have about 22g of protein per serving, while peanuts have about 40g.

So the only non-animal protein comparable to meat protein in quality is from soya beans which Indians do not eat much of.

As to milk, it's an important source of calcium which is very important for skeletal growth and health."

---------------------------

Dr. Haq,

You disappoint me.

The things you quote were very fashionable beliefs in the Sixties, especially amongst Eurocentric pseudo-intellectuals in the West.

They have all since been debunked.

Forget the 2-bit magazines which are driven by the needs of corporate advertisors rather than by science.

Read the scientific literature at PUBMED.

Research at PUBMED confirms:

Animal Source != Only source of "quality" protein.

Pulses+Wholegrains+Sesameseeds = Complete Protein with all Acids, but without the saturated fat & LDL

Green leafy Vegetables = Complete Calcium, without the saturated fat & LDL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat#Association_with_diseases

Animal Source != Required

Plant Source = More efficient in terms of Land & Water usage.

Thanks.

Milk Corporations: Drink more Milk, it good for you!

Meat Corporations: Eat more Meat, it's good for you!

Vegetables & Pulses: No corporations, mostly local or unbranded, small margins.

So.... when are you going California-Veggie? You hippie, you! Ovo, Ova-lacto, Vegan, what?

HopeWins Junior said...

^^**COMPLETE** protein

----------------------------

Do you like punishment?

----------------------------

Complete Proteins

A complete protein contains an adequate amount of all of the essential amino acids that should be incorporated into a diet. Some protein contains all the amino acids needed to build new proteins, which generally come from animal and fish products. A complete protein must not lack even one essential amino acid in order to be considered complete.

Sources of Complete Proteins

The following foods are examples of complete proteins, which need not be combined with any other food to provide adequate protein:
•Meat
•Fish
•Poultry
•Cheese
•Eggs
•Yogurt
•Milk

Incomplete Proteins

An incomplete protein is any protein that lacks one or more essential amino acids in correct proportions. These can also be referred to as partial proteins. Even if the protein contains all the essential amino acids, they must be in equal proportions in order to be considered complete. If not, the protein is considered incomplete.

Sources of Incomplete Proteins

The following foods are examples of incomplete proteins:
•Grains
•Nuts
•Beans
•Seeds
•Peas
•Corn

Combining Incomplete Proteins to Create Complete Proteins

By combining foods from two or more incomplete proteins, a complete protein can be created. The amino acids that may be missing from one type of food can be compensated by adding a protein that contains that missing amino acid. When eaten in combination at the same meal, you are providing your body with all the essential amino acids it requires. These are considered complementary proteins when they are combined to compensate for each other's lack of amino acids.

Samples of Complementary Proteins

Examples of combined complementary proteins to create a complete protein in one meal include:
•Grains with Legumes - sample meal: lentils and rice with sesame seeds.
•Nuts with Legumes - sample meal: black bean and peanut salad.
•Legumes with Seeds - sample meal: spinach salad with sesame seed and almond salad dressing.

By learning what foods complement each other, it is possible to create a perfectly balanced meal with the proper proportions of proteins. This will ensure that your body is getting all the essential amino acids it requires for optimal bodily functions.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "By learning what foods complement each other, it is possible to create a perfectly balanced meal with the proper proportions of proteins."

It may be true of vegetarians in more advanced societies.

But it's too much to expect of a poor and backward country like India. It's a lot easier to use a single food like meat or dairy to get closer to meeting nutritional requirements.

In fact, Grameen Bangladesh has shown that a cheap serving of yogurt like "Shakti Doi" has helped reduce malnutrition among children and reduced infant mortality rates.