India remains home to 18.4 crore undernourished people, many of whom are children10 suffering from micronutrient deficiency, otherwise known as Hidden Hunger. A recent Bangalore study of 634 urban schoolchildren found that up to 9 out of 10 were at risk of dietary micronutrient deficiencies, regardless of their socio-economic background.
The risk of inadequate nutrient intake in the Bangalore study was most for Vitamin A, Folate, Vitamin B12 and Iron. These deficiencies could leave children susceptible to stunting, weakened immune systems, impaired cognitive function, anaemia, low energy levels and other worrying effects of micronutrient deficiency.
Overfed Yet Undernourished An obese or overweight child can still suffer from hidden hunger. The Bangalore study showed that inadequacy in nutrient intake can happen regardless of socio-economic class. The children surveyed were split among lower, middle and high socio-economic groups, yet were found to be at risk of inadequate intake of micronutrients.
Hidden Hunger Is Often Invisible Micronutrient deficiencies, otherwise known as Hidden Hunger, are often invisible and hard to spot. Children may appear healthy but suffer negative impacts on health and wellbeing. For example, they may be stunted, have poor night vision or suffer frequently from illness. Some other warning signs could be the loss of appetite, lethargy, and breathlessness, often associated with iron deficiency.
Parents Can Turn The Tide Parents can help reduce the risk of hidden hunger in children by managing their micronutrient intake. Being intentional in your everyday decisions to encourage consumption of a wide range of micronutrient rich foods – such as dairy products, meat, green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits – can go a long way for your child’s development.
The Horlicks Nutrimeter online food test can help parents keep a close watch on their child’s daily nutritional needs and adjust their diets accordingly. It evaluates your inputted diet to assess the gaps in requirements and intake of micronutrients.
You could also give your child two cups of Horlicks daily as a part of their daily diet. Horlicks contains important micronutrients (vitamins B6, B12, C, D, copper, folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc) and is clinically proven to help children grow taller, sharper, stronger when included as part of their regular daily diet”
10 Rapid Survey on Children, 2013-2014. India Fact Sheet. p 4. 11 Krishnaswamy GJ et. al, Adequacy of Nutrient Intakes In Urban School Children. Poster (CMN-P-053) presented at: Nutrition Risk Management and Nutrition. 48th Annual National Conference of Nutrition Society of India; 4th – 5th November 2016, Bengaluru, India. 12 Semba, R. (2004). Impact of Micronutrient Deficiencies on Immune Function. Micronutrient Deficiencies during the Weaning Period and the First Years of Life, pp.137-152. 13 Ozdemir, N. (2015). Iron deficiency anemia from diagnosis to treatment in children. Türk Pediatri Arşivi, 50(1), pp.11-19. 14 International Food Policy Research Institute. (2014). Global Hunger Index: The challenge of hidden hunger. Chapter 03. Addressing the Challenge of Hidden Hunger. 15 Krishnaswamy GJ et. al, Adequacy of Nutrient Intakes In Urban School Children. Poster (CMN-P-053) presented at: Nutrition Risk Management and Nutrition. 48th Annual National Conference of Nutrition Society of India; 4th – 5th November 2016, Bengaluru, India. 16 Ozdemir, N. (2015). Iron deficiency anemia from diagnosis to treatment in children. Türk Pediatri Arşivi, 50(1), pp.11-19. 17 Rao, Shobha, et al. "Intake of micronutrient-rich foods in rural Indian mothers is associated with the size of their babies at birth: Pune Maternal Nutrition Study." The Journal of nutrition 131.4 (2001): 1217-1224. 18 Claim based on a study conducted in 1999-2000 and published in Journal of Nutrition: 22(2006)S1-S39, comparing micronutrient enriched beverage vs. non fortified placebo. Shatrugna, V., Balakrishna, N. and Krishnaswamy, K. (2006). Effect of micronutrient supplement on health and nutritional status of schoolchildren: bone health and body composition. Nutrition, 22(1), pp.S33-S39