With Northeastern states lagging behind in most of the nutritional indicators, health experts have time and again underlined the need for a balanced diet to stay healthy and keep diseases at bay.
"A balanced diet is one that has all the different components essential for health and provides all the nutritional requirements for a long and healthy life," underlined Dr Manisha Choudhury, faculty, department of food science and nutrition from Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, while deliberating on nutrition for preventive health during a national webinar on preventive healthcare and promotion of healthy lifestyles.
"Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body's dietary needs. In India, 61 per cent of the population are suffering from Vitamin A deficiency (subclinical VAD) (NNMB) and out of 325 districts, 263 districts are IDD (iodine deficiency disorder)-endemic," Dr Choudhury said.
In Assam, 68.4 per cent of children aged between six and 59 months are anaemic, which is higher than the national average.
"The North-Eastern states, be it Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, are lagging behind in most of the nutritional indicators such as early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth; percentage of children under three years who are stunted; the percentage of children under three years who are underweight," she said.
The impact of malnutrition during the first 1,000 days is largely irreversible but these consequences are preventable.
The webinar was organized by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, North Eastern Regional Centre, Guwahati on Thursday as part of Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav Celebrations (75 years of India's Independence).
The main aim of the webinar was to discuss the importance of preventive healthcare and promotion of healthy lifestyle practices and further to deliberate on various fitness domains for creating a healthy nation with the ability to take the right preventive steps.
In Assam, 68.4 per cent of children aged between six and 59 months are anaemic, which is higher than the national average."Another alarming indicator is anaemia, which is very high among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women. Health promotion and prevention are the important strategies through which we can create a healthy society," Dr Choudhury said.
Earlier, the webinar was inaugurated by I. Venkateswarlu, former commissioner of the government of Andhra Pradesh in presence of Dr. Ravindra S.Gavali, Director, NIRDPR NERC Guwahati, and Dr T. Vijaya Kumar, Associate Professor and Webinar Coordinator.
Dr Kumar, while welcoming the delegates and guests, emphasised the importance of preventive healthcare, which he said was becoming an area of focus in most of the countries, including India.
Due to hectic schedules and lifestyle choices, healthcare takes a backseat for many people. Stressful and unhealthy lifestyles have led to a significant increase in the incidence of diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
Dr Gavali, while delivering the opening remarks, highlighted that "preventive healthcare means catching potential problems before they become real problems. In rural areas, access to quality health is a challenging task so the indigenous health system needs to be promoted as preventive health care."
I. Venkateshwarlu, while delivering the inaugural address, highlighted that there is a prevailing notion that our health depends upon the doctor's treatment, which is completely wrong. But keeping ourselves healthy is real healthcare. It's preventive in nature. And our body knows how to keep us healthy.
Jagannath Chatterjee, a health campaigner from Odisha, in his deliberation, stressed on health barriers among rural and tribal populations in the webinar.
Brig. H.M. Pant (retired), who is a holistic healer from Uttarakhand deliberated on holistic lifestyle, saying people must live with nature. "For a healthy life, people should establish close linkage with the five elements - air, water, fire, weather and space," he said.