Understanding Undernutrition

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Undernutrition is complex and multi-faceted and has several causes.
  • Immediate causes operate at the individual level. They are the result of either inadequate dietary intake, or exposure to infectious diseases, or even a combination of both. Common infectious diseases, like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection, result in decreased intake and poor absorption of nutrients, leading to undernutrition. Undernutrition reduces an individual's resistance to infection, thereby increasing the likelihood of further infection.
  • Underlying causes operate at the household and community level. They include household food insecurity, inadequate maternal and child care, inadequate health services and an unhealthy environment (such as lack of sanitation and safe drinking water facilities). These are referred to as Food, Care and Health factors.
  • Basic causes revolve around socio-cultural factors such as early marriage, poverty, gender bias, etc.



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  • Indian Academny of Pediatrics
  • HealthPhone
  • Vodafone India
  • Ministry of Women and Child Development
  • UNICEF India

About IAP HealthPhone

An initiative of HealthPhone™, conducted under the aegis of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, UNICEF, Aamir Khan and with support from Vodafone.

The objective of this nationwide campaign against malnutrition is to address issues of status of women, the care of pregnant mothers and children under two, breastfeeding and the importance of balanced nutrition and health. The focus is on women between 13 and 35 years of age and their family members.


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