Protein energy malnutrition - an important nutrition problem in india

Posted by Aparna Tandon on Sun, Mar 13, 2011  
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Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is an important nutrition problem among preschool age children. This leads to various degrees of growth retardation.When growth reatrdation is severe, functional deficiences, like resistance to infection, poor intellectual development may occur.


Earlier, the main cause of malnutrition among children was considered to be due to protein deficiency. However, subsequent systematic study of the habitual diets of these children indicated that the concentration of protein in their diets was adequate, but they were suffering from energy and food inadequacy since they were not eating enough of their habitual diet.


The diets of these children with PEM are also deficient in other nutrients as well, namely, vitamin A, iron, calcium and riboflavin. It is also known that infections like measles and diarrhoea aggravate PEM. So, supplementary feeding is what is required in such cases providing 300Kcals and 10gm protein in addition to their habitual diets, and also making that supplementary feeding rich in other nutrients like vitamin A, iron, calcium also.. This way, most of the major nutritional deficiency among children can be overcome through a single intervention programme, viz., supplementary feeding. However, to achieve this, the feeding programme must be made more effective by proper allocation of Government resources, by spreading awareness and proper survelliance of the implementation of such programmes so that the target population can get the benefits and this problem of PEM can be overcomed at its inital stages only.


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