The majority cannot afford a balanced diet -Madhura Swaminathan

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published Published on Jul 28, 2020   modified Modified on Jul 28, 2020

-The Hindu

Even millions who are above the poverty line do not have access to healthy or nutritious food in India

New analysis from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that hundreds of millions of people in India above the international poverty line of $1.90 purchasing power parity (PPP) per person per day cannot afford a healthy or nutritious diet. This analysis confirms the fact that the problem of poor nutrition in India is largely on account of the unaffordability of good diets, and not on account of lack of information on nutrition or tastes or cultural preferences. The large majority of Indians cannot afford a balanced diet.

Every year, the FAO, in partnership with other United Nations organisations, publishes a report on food security across the world. This year, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) was released on July 13. A new feature of SOFI 2020 is a detailed analysis of the “cost and affordability of healthy diets around the world”.

Types of diets

Three types of diet are defined. The first is termed a “basic energy sufficient” diet. This is one in which the required calorie intake is met by consuming only the cheapest starchy cereal available (say, rice or wheat). A requirement of 2,329 Kcal for a healthy young woman of 30 years is taken as the standard reference. The second is a “nutrient adequate” diet, one where the required calorie norms and the stipulated requirement of 23 macro- and micro-nutrients are met. This diet includes least cost items from different food groups. The third diet is a “healthy diet”. This is one which meets the calorie norm and the macro- and micro-nutrient norm and also allows for consumption of a diverse diet, from several food groups. Defining a healthy diet is more complex than the other two diets, and the FAO uses actual recommendations for selected countries. The Indian recommendation includes consumption of items from six groups: starchy staples, protein-rich food (legumes, meat and eggs), dairy, vegetables, fruits, and fats.

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The Hindu, 28 July, 2020,

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