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Less nutritious food may cause stunting

Hyderabad: Stunting (low height for one’s age) in the Indian population, which continues to be at a high of 39 per cent of all children under the age of five. This means (among other factors) that the food that is being eaten is not nutrient rich and the protein needed for growth is not part of the diet.

Stunted growth was 43 per cent in 1999 and has come down to 39 per cent, according to the 2013-14 national survey of the Union ministry of women and child development., but is still high considering the wider range of foods available in the Indian market.

One of the advantages of the new Indian Food Composition Table 2017 is that it will help nutritionists, public health managers and doctors to address this issue, as the quantities can be scientifically evaluated. 

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“Protein is required for the growth of the child. We can now understand where it is lacking and rectify it,” said T Longvah, director of the National Institute of Nutrition, which has drawn up the table. “Earlier, the estimates were taken from international charts. In the present book, we have details of all animal and plant foods. In animal foods, the details are in the form of the animal’s shoulder, legs, brain, tongue, thigh and liver, which will give an exact idea of which part gives how much nutrients.”

So for chicken, values are given for poultry and country chicken and also other birds like duck, emu, pigeon, quail and turkey. There is a clear classification given for beef, goat, sheep, calf, pork, hare and rabbit.

These classifications give the protein content provided by various food sources and accordingly the growth factors can be evaluated. Nuts and oil seeds are good sources of protein. Soya bean has the highest protein content in the family of pulses and whole grains. Adult males requires 60 grams of protein every day and females, 50 grams every day. Every growing child requires in the range of 60 to 80 grams every day.

Pulses with the highest protein value

  • Amaranth seed pale brown: 13.27
  • Wheat flour refined: 10.36
  • Bengal gram and black gram: 21.55 and 23.06
  • Green gram dal (whole): 22.53
  • Lentil whole: 22.49
  • Soya bean: 35.58

Millers told to reduce rice polish
The loss of vitamin B in polished rice has prompted NIN to recommend the government that millers must be made to decrease the polishing from 10 per cent to eight per cent. Polishing is done to give the milled rice a bright, white, shiny appearance. 

Mr T. Longvah, director of the institute, said, “Rice is a good source of Vitamin B and by processing it we are depriving our people of a nutrient which is highly required by them. If it (the polishing) is decreased by two per cent, it will help to maintain this source of vitamin in the food.”

Vitamin B is required for cell metabolism and its deficiency hampers absorption of foods, causes fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss. Neurological problems like numbness at fingertips, etc.


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