If India is to achieve double-digit growth in the next few years, it needs to save billions of dollars from being lost to malnutrition that can be prevented at a fraction of the cost. A strategic beginning in this direction would be to invest in the nutrition of India’s 113 million adolescent girls, more than 50 per cent of whom are malnourished – suffering inadequate physical and mental growth.
Dasra’s latest report – Three Square Meals – found that in 15 states more than 70 per cent of adolescent girls suffer from moderate to severe anaemia. While under-nutrition is a problem often observed in boys and girls alike, the situation worsens for girls after their first menstrual cycle unless the periodic loss of iron through menstrual bleeding is compensated with an intake of iron-rich foods and supplements.
The report highlights holistic solutions that adopt the lens of a food continuum to identify sustainable solutions that engage girls, their families and their communities.
Adolescent girls offer a unique window of opportunity to break the cycle of poor nutrition at both individual and intergenerational levels. Philanthropy and non-profit interventions play a key role in freeing the girls from the ill-effects of malnutrition that limit their potential and affect their offspring. It is time to act now and act fast!