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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 63-67

Protein energy malnutrition in India: The plight of our under five children


Department of Community Medicine, Sikkim-Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Correspondence Address:
Dechenla Tshering Bhutia
Department of Community Medicine, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, 5th Mile Tadong, Gangtok - 737 102, Sikkim
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.130279

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Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major public health problem in India. This affects the child at the most crucial period of time of development, which can lead to permanent impairment in later life. PEM is measured in terms of underweight (low weight for age), stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height). The prevalence of stunting among under five is 48% and wasting is 19.8% and with an underweight prevalence of 42.5%, it is the highest in the world. Undernutrition predisposes the child to infection and complements its effect in contributing to child mortality. Lalonde model (1974) is used to look into the various determinants of PEM in under five children and its interrelation in causation of PEM. The determinants of PEM are broadly classified under four distinct categories: Environmental factors including the physical and social environment, behavioral factors, health-care service related and biological factors. The socio-cultural factors play an important role wherein, it affects the attitude of the care giver in feeding and care practices. Faulty feeding practice in addition to poor nutritional status of the mother further worsens the situation. The vicious cycle of poor nutritional status of the mother leading to low birth weight child further exposes the child to susceptibility to infections which aggravates the situation. However, it is seen that percapita income of the family did not have much bearing on the poor nutritional status of the child rather lack of proper health-care services adversely contributed to poor nutritional status of the child. PEM is a critical problem with many determinants playing a role in causing this vicious cycle of undernutrition. With almost half of under five children undernourished in India, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of underweight by 2015 seems a distant dream.


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