3.3 Million Malnourished Children In India; Which Are The Worst States?

New Delhi: More than 3.3 million children in India are malnourished, half of whom fall in the ‘severely malnourished’ category, according to government data.

The Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry, responding to an RTI query by news agency PTI, stated that Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topped the list.

As of October 14, 2021, there are 17.76 lakh (1.7 million) severely acute malnourished (SAM) and 15.46 lakh (1.5 million) moderately acute malnourished (MAM) malnourished children in our country.

The total number of 33.23 lakh (3.3 million) is a compilation of data from 34 states and union territories, the WCD ministry informed.

Since November 2020, there has been an alarming rise in these numbers. Compared to 9.27 lakh severely malnourished children a year ago, there has been a 91% increase in this category, leading many to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened health and nutrition crisis among the poor.

The figures, though, are based on different methods of data collection. Number of SAM children (from 6 months to 6 years) last year was counted by 36 states and union territories, and conveyed to the Centre. The latest figures are through Poshan tracker where numbers were directly entered by anganwadis and accessed by the Centre. Age groups of the children have not been specified.

The RTI reply, quoting the Poshan tracker, mentioned Maharashtra with highest number of malnourished children at 6.16 lakh of whom 4.58 lakh are in severe category.

Bihar follows with 4.75 lakh malnourished children including 1.52 lakh in severe category.

Gujarat comes third with 3.20 lakh malnourished kids, of whom 1.65 lakh are severely malnourished.

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