World Food Day 2020: India’s Top Experts Believe Protein Deficiency Is Need Of The Hour

All You Need To Know About The India Protein Score

Expert Opinion, India Protein Paradox, Protein 101
October 16, 2020

Expert Opinion

World Food Day 2020: India’s Top Experts Believe Protein Deficiency Is Need Of The Hour

Every year, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations commemorates October 16, as World Food Day. This year’s theme of #ZeroHunger calls on individuals and organizations to prioritize the need to combat food insecurity and help the most vulnerable people meet their nutritional needs. However, World Food Day 2020 takes on a new meaning – to approach food security with not just the quantity of foods, but the quality, so as to strengthen food systems to sustain volatility and pull through the health crisis.

Today, the ability of countries to maintain the momentum on their respective nutrition agendas are in the spotlight. While in India, the double burden of malnutrition and obesity, anemia, and diabetes has been debated and discussed, experts identify the need to make protein sufficiency a part of the discourse. This is because of the lack of protein knowledge among mothers in several parts of the country, which might be contributing to protein deficiencies among children (Protein Paradox, 2020). This cause for concern has also been identified by UNICEF in a 2019 study that revealed consumption of protein-based calories is negligible for Indian children and its intake share remains unchanged in the last two decades. 

So, here’s what India’s leading health experts believe can be the way forward for the country’s fight against protein deficiency and malnourishment:

Saleema Razvi, Research Economist at Copenhagen Consensus Centre: “There [is] clear evidence [that] points to the continual persistence of protein hunger or deficiency among large sections of the population. The approach to tackling malnutrition should therefore include focusing on the lack of protein rather than just the current emphasis on micronutrient malnutrition. It is important that India encourages and fosters pertinent levels of production and consumption of high-quality protein rich foods so as to supplement the country’s attempts to improve diet quality and fight stubbornly high levels of undernutrition.”

Madhuri Ruia, Nutrition & Fitness Expert and an alumnus of the American Academy Of Nutrition: “The need of the hour is heightened awareness and education about the country’s protein consumption and a strong ecosystem to enable tangible behaviour change. Providing Education and influencing behavioural changes need to be made across the spectrum, and as nutritionists, it is our prerogative to nudge the society in the right direction with constant education”

Nmami Agarwal Nutritionist and wellness expert, CEO & Founder, Nmami Life: “The biggest hurdle is lack of awareness about the importance of dietary rich foods. And the major cause of concern is that most people don’t think protein is essential component of diet, and unlike calcium or iron deficiency, protein deficiency is still not taken very seriously. Health care practitioners especially dieticians and nutritionists can raise awareness on an individual basis or conduct workshops or seminars to bridge the protein deficiency gap.”

Dr. Kavitha Reddy, Ph.D., Nutrition Expert and Director – Sreya Nutrition: “Only few take in to account the role that a strong immunity plays during such times. Protein is a determinant of an individual’s nutrition and immune response, so in times like these, eating protein-rich food has become the utmost priority, boosting immune system and giving people the best chance to fight deadly viruses like Covid-19. But the good news is that no one would need to scour around to hunt for high protein sources, since they are easily available, come in variety for all kinds of food preferences, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, and are affordable”

Dr. Suresh Itapu, Nutraceutical Expert & Director, NutriTech India: “As the Indian population majorly depends on vegetarian sources for protein, plant-based sources like soybean can be promoted as major source of the macronutrient. India also runs world’s largest feeding programs so promoting soy protein products in these programs will go a long way in alleviating malnutrition”

World Food Day may be an annual event that takes place on 16th October, but it’s a campaign of commitments and action that should occur all year round.

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