Hyderabad: The food served to students in many government
residential schools in the State is anything but nutritious and the
inmates mostly end up anaemic.
A detailed analysis of food served in select government residential
schools under Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational
Institutions Society revealed that the diet falls short of the
Recommended Dietary Allowance by almost 50 per cent. The students thus
consume just half of the daily nutritional requirement for a healthy
growth of body and mind.
Teams from the micronutrient research group of the biophysics
division, and the division of community studies, of the National
Institute of Nutrition collected samples of food served in lunch from
government residential school hostels. Since iron is linked to body
energy and better performance, both physical and mental, the NIN teams
studied the content of iron in the menu served. They also studied the
haemoglobin content in the blood of the students. A majority of boys
and girls showed high incidence of anaemia, which could be linked to
low dietary intake of iron.
The researchers included D Roy Choudhury, MS Radhika, GNV Brahmam and
K Madhavan Nair. The students were adolescents, in the age group 13 to
15 years. It is the rapid growth period with physiological and
psychological modulation and the children need extra nutritional
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian adolescent boys and girls
is 32 mg and 27 mg respectively, and when it is calculated for 1000
kcal, it comes to 12 mg. The NIN scientists found that the iron
density of prescribed diet was 5.55 mg/1000 kcal, which is 50 per cent
lower than the RDA of 12 mg/1000 kcal.
The iron density in the individual intake was also found to be lower
at 5 mg per 1000 kcal than the corresponding RDA. To corroborate these
findings, the researchers took the overall prevalence of anaemia,
which was found to be 66 per cent in girls and 75 per cent in boys.
“The deficit in iron density of diets and concomitant prevalence of
anaemia among adolescent in government residential schools are of
concern and calls for implementation of focused strategies for dietary
diversification and food fortification concurrently to improve and
maintain the macronutrient status of adolescents,” the NIN teams
observed in their study.