Malnutrition in India: More than 33 lakh children in the country are malnourished

According to the Women and Child Development Ministry, as of Oct 14, 2021, there were 17,76,902 severely acute malnourished children and 15,46,420 moderately acute malnourished children in the country

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NH Web Desk

A data in response to a Right to Information query also known as RTI, revealed that more than 33 lakh children are malnourished in India and over half of them are in a severe category.

According to the Women and Child Development Ministry, as of October 14 this year, there were 17,76,902 severely acute malnourished children and 15,46,420 moderately acute malnourished children in the country.

The report stated that Maharashtra had the highest number of malnourished children at 6,16,772, followed by Bihar with 4,75,824 children and then Gujarat with 3,20,465 children.

Other states with a high number of malnourished children are Andhra Pradesh with 2,67,228 children, Karnataka with 2,49,463 children, and Uttar Pradesh with 1,86,640 children.

The World Health Organization defines severe acute malnutrition as very low weight for height, nutritional oedema, or a mid-upper arm circumference of fewer than 115 millimeters. WHO defines moderate acute malnutrition as moderate wasting and/or a mid-upper arm circumference greater than 115 millimeters but less than 125 millimeters.

Reportedly, there has been a 91% rise in the number of severely acute malnourished children between November 2020 and October 14 this year. The number of such children in November 2020 was 9,27,606. However, the two numbers are based on different methods of data collection.

While last year’s figures were collected by state governments and passed on to the Centre, this year’s figures were directly entered into the Poshan tracker app by anganwadi workers and accessed by the Centre. Moreover, while the age group of children for last year’s data was from six months to six years, the age group of this year’s data has not been specified.


The Poshan Tracker app was developed by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to track all Aanganwadi centres and their beneficiaries.

Notably, India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index 2021 of 116 countries, from its last year's position of 94th, and now it is behind neighbouring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

However, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development claimed that the methodology used for the Global Hunger index was unscientific.

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