Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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    Centre denounces ‘zero-food children’ report | Action Punjab

    ACTION PUNJAB NEWS Desk: The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development on Tuesday condemned a recently published article on “zero-food children” in India, calling it a deliberate and malicious attempt to sensationalise fake news. 

    In a statement, the ministry stated that the article lacked primary research and made misleading claims. 

    The referenced article was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open. The study claimed that the prevalence of “zero-food children” in India was 19.3%, highlighting extreme food deprivation among children.

    It also ranked India as having the third-highest percentage of “zero-food children” after Guinea (21.8%) and Mali (20.5%). According to the report, India has the highest number of “zero-food children” with over six million. 

    The term zero-food children refers to children aged six to 23 months who have not consumed any milk, formula, or food in the previous 24 hours. 

    However, the ministry noted that the study’s authors admitted to significant data limitations, resulting in their conclusions unreliable.

    “The authors themselves have admitted to deep misgivings on the data and have referred to at least 9 limitations which make their study absolutely unreliable. There is no scientific definition of ‘zero food children’,” according to the statement.

    “The methodology followed is opaque and has attempted to interpret single-day recalls by those who were supposedly contacted. No state government or any private organisation in India has ever reported about starving children,” it further said.

    ‘JAMA article excluded breast milk from the definition of food’

    The ministry highlighted a glaring oversight in the JAMA article, which failed to recognise the importance of breast milk for infants, particularly those over six months old. 

    The study’s exclusion of breast milk from the definition of food for infants aged six to 23 months calls into question its credibility, it added.  The ministry added that a significant portion of the children labelled as “zero-food children” received breast milk, debunking the report’s sensationalised claims.

    “Out of the so-called 19.3 per cent Zero Food Children referred to by the study, 17.8 per cent had received breast milk and only 1.5 per cent children have been claimed as non-breastfed.”

    The ministry also stated that the study ignored publicly available data from the Poshan Tracker, which monitors over eight crore children in the country via Anganwadi centres. 

    It stated that these centres play an important role in providing supplementary nutrition, such as micronutrients and fortified foods, to children under the age of six.

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    Author: actionpunjab

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