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Dietary Changes, Calorie Intake and Undernourishment: A Comparative Study of India and Vietnam

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posted on 2023-06-23, 01:09 authored by Ray, R
This paper examines the changes in the nature and quantity of Food consumption in India during the reforms decade of the 1990s, and analyses their implications for calorie intake and undernourishment. The study documents the decline in cereal consumption, especially in the urban areas, and provides evidence that suggests an increase in the prevalence of undernourishment over the period, 1987/88 – 2001/2002. The results also point to a significant number of households, even in the top expenditure decile, suffering from under nourishment. This calls for a reassessment of the current strategy of directing the Targetted Public Distribution System (TPDS) exclusively at households “below the poverty line” (BPL). This study shows that, both as a source of subsidised calories and as a poverty reducing instrument, the PDS is of much greater importance to the female headed households than it is to the rest of the population. Another important result is that, notwithstanding the sharp decline in their expenditure share during the 1990s, Rice and Wheat continue to provide the dominant share of calories, especially for the rural poor. The Indian experience is in sharp contrast to that in Vietnam which witnessed a large increase in calorie intake and, consequently, a decrease in the prevalence of ndernourishment in the late 1990s. The Vietnamese diet displayed increased diversification during the 1990s with a greater role for protein rich animal products and a more balanced diet of nutrients than in India.

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