Hyderabad, November 23rd, 2023: Parents around the world share a universal concern for their children's growth, particularly tracking the child’s key milestones such as height and weight. Childhood marks a phase of swift growth, and when they fall behind, it sparks concerns and anxieties amongst parents. This lag in growth can be linked to various lifestyle factors including dietary habits, and physical activity, manifesting in forms of malnutrition including stunting (low height-for-age), underweight (low weight-for-age) and wasting (low weight-for-height).
As per World Health Organization 2022 report, 149 million children under 5 years of age were too short for their age.[ii] India accounts for nearly one-third of the global childhood stunting burden with 40.6 million children stunted under the age of five.[iii]
Stunting has long-term effects on both individuals and societies, including poor cognition and educational achievement, lost productivity, and negative impacts on overall health. It can prevent children from reaching their full potential in life. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to a risk of immune deficiencies, compromised cognitive function, behavioral problems, diminished bone health, and decreased muscle mass.
Proper nutrition provides the essential building blocks to help children grow, learn, thrive and meet important milestones. Children need the right amount of macronutrients including proteins, carbohydrates and fat as well as micronutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K and arginine. Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition business said “Nutritional intervention plays a pivotal role in promoting optimal growth and development. Parents should focus on balanced nutritional intake consisting of all the macronutrients and micronutrients. Abbott, through various initiatives, including the launch of Abbott Center for Malnutrition Solutions is committed to reducing malnutrition globally. The center, a collaboration between Abbott and external experts and partners, is focused on identification, treatment and prevention of malnutrition for the most vulnerable populations including children.”
Adding further, Prof. Pedro Alarcon, Pediatric Gastroenterologist said, “Stunting is a condition that needs attention. For parents of fussy eaters, consider using oral nutrition supplements for a well-rounded diet. Understanding the role of nutrition such as that of oral nutrition supplements is essential. Nutritional supplement drinks can either fill nutritional gaps or help increase the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals from foods. It's like turning up the volume on nutrient absorption, so children’s bodies can make the most of the food they have.”
Protein, vitamins, and minerals are key for a child’s growth, yet sometimes only up to 50% of nutrients, like calcium, iron and zinc, may get absorbed from the food a child eats. Nutritional supplements can play a dual role, either bridging nutritional gaps or enhancing the absorption of vital vitamins and minerals from regular food consumption.
Dr. D Ramesh,Head of the Department of Paediatrics and Neonatology, and Head of the DNB Paediatrics Program at Yashoda Hospitals, Secunderabad says, “Recently, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) survey found that while there were 33.8% children stunted in urban area, stunting prevalence in rural Telangana was 33%[iv]. To support right growth, children require a good mix of macro and micro nutrients that comes from five food groups–vegetables, fruits, protein, dairy and cereals. Hence, parents should provide a mix of balanced diet that ensures children receive necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals for healthy holistic growth.”