Hyderabad: Many rural families in Telangana now eat more carbohydrates as they are more affordable than sourcing limited protein and micronutrient rich options, a recent study by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has said.
The international body, quoting the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) baseline report 2021 by NITI Aayog, said the study was taken up in Telangana as the state has one in seven individuals multidimensionally poor which is less than the national average of one in four.
“A new study from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is reshaping our understanding of India’s rural health crisis by shedding light on the unexpected causes driving the rise of rural obesity and malnutrition,” ICRISAT said.
The study also highlights the lack of access to protein and the importance of traditional food systems, and nutrition-sensitive food supply chains.
People are also eating more sugary packaged foods because they are easily available in stores and have a longer shelf life than healthy fruits and vegetables, the study said.
Those who move to cities from rural areas also make changes in their diet because they are exposed to widespread packaged food advertising.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, commended the study stating that as policymakers navigate this nutritional challenge, the cost of inaction on the public health system would outweigh the cost of action.
“There is a need to work closer with the food processing industry to blend heritage with health by making nutritious products such as millet more attractive to consumers,” Hughes said.
To address the problem, the study suggests teaching people about nutrition, informing them about healthy food, using digital tools to spread the message, and growing local food.
Dr Shalander Kumar, Cluster Leader – Markets, Institutions, and Policy and the lead author of the study, said the findings provide substantial evidence for policymakers to address the triple burden of malnutrition: the coexistence of under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and over-nutrition in rural India.