Nutritional gaps reason for Hyderabad slum kids underweight, stunted and anemic

HYDERABAD: Beyond the glitz and glamor of the Hyderabad city which ranks the ‘fifth most dynamic city’ in the world has a dark underbelly where malnutrition is widely prevalent among children living in slums.

In an analysis of health and nutritional status conducted on 412 children aged six to 11 years who are staying in slum areas researchers from Community Medicine department of Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences concluded that a significant number of the children suffered from vitamin-A and vitamin-B deficiencies, anemia, have stunted growth and are underweight.

Dr. Sujatha Stephen, chief nutritionist at a private hospital, says, “Children aged 6-11 are of growing age when they need to be provided with the required nutrition. If they do not get sufficient levels of nutrients until the age of 15 it can have a long-term impact on their physical and mental health, performance and well-being.”

The study also showed that nearly a sixth of the children surveyed were anemic and an equal number suffered from vitamin B deficiency.
Dr. Sujatha said, “Vitamin B is crucial for the sound functioning of the Central Nervous System and its deficiency will cause neurological problems, psychological issues and affect cognitive ability of children resulting in their poor performance in education.”

She added, “Apart from affecting eyesight, Vitamin A deficiency will lead to the children becoming dull and less energetic. Vitamins act as co-enzymes and help in breaking down food during digestion. Lack of it will result in less energy in the body and also indigestion related health problems. Children also become susceptible to diseases due to vitamin deficiency.”