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Law on infant foods inhibits the marketing of complementary foods for infants, furthering undernutrition in India

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 30 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8131
  1. Veena Rao, adviser, Karnataka Nutrition Mission, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka, Ananda Rao Circle, Bangalore 560009, India
  1. nobel_6{at}

Data continue to show stubbornly high rates of undernutrition in children in India. Almost two in five (38.4%) children under 3 years old are stunted, 19.1% wasted, and 45.9% underweight.1 Every third malnourished child in the world is from India, says the current Unicef website on India.2 India has one of the highest levels of child malnutrition in the world, more than in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.3

The multiple causes of child undernutrition are well documented—poverty, sex inequality, poor cultural practices, and poor governance. But another important cause not articulated strongly enough is market related. At present the Indian market completely lacks affordable complementary foods for infants from poor families or for poor children during or recovering from illness. Just over half (55.8%) of children aged 6-9 months in India receive complementary foods.1 This is one of the main causes of acute undernutrition among …

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