Urban adoloscent girls hooked to Junk foods – Survey

(Representative image)
(Representative image)
TRICHY: Adolescent girls in urban areas of Trichy continue to shun the supplementary nutrition provided by the state government while rural adolescent girls lap it up and stay healthy. This is the finding of the Integrated Child Development Services (IDCS) scheme which has been implementing the project to provide supplementary food free of cost to girls.
Urban adolescent girls are attracted to junk food which spoils their health. On the contrary, many rural girls are anaemic as they can’t afford nutritious food. While these girls are aware of the benefits of supplementary food provided by the government and consume it regularly, the urban girls are yet to fully utilise it,” project officer (PO) of ICDS scheme Trichy T Bhuvaneswari said.

The weaning food consisting of wheat, maize, bajra, powdered jaggery, Bengal gram, malted ragi and vitamin premixed in recommended ratio is provided to 47,095 adolescent girls aged from 11 years to 18 years in all 1,828 anganwadi centres in the district. All of them are advised to consume 30 gm per day.

As many as 7,497 adolescent girls in the urban areas – project 1, project 2, Manikangandam, Thiruverumbur and Andhanallur blocks – are eligible for the benefit. Though the supplementary food is supplied to them through the anganwadi workers, many of them neglect the food which costs the government Rs 49.50 per kg.  

The distribution of supplementary nutrition through anganwadi centres under ICDS scheme has been going on for many years now. Yet, people in the urban areas have been hesitant to consider it on a par with other nutritious food available in the shops.

Supplementary nutrition was being given to ICDS scheme beneficiaries – children aged from six months to 36 months, pregnant women and lactating mothers – for 300 days a year. The supply of supplementary food is aimed at bridging the protein and energy gap between recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and average intake of the beneficiaries.
The state government had extended supplementary nutrition to the adolescent girls four years ago on the basis of surveys of the government and private agencies that pointed to a high number of unhealthy adolescent girls who were vulnerable to anaemia. The scheme is being implemented in five districts including Trichy in the state.
S Rukmani, a former joint coordinator of women development corporation (WDC) and an expert in the field of adolescent girls’ health, said that parents should be made aware of the benefits of the supplementary food. “People have a mindset that the supplementary food available in outlets only can only be healthy. The parents must know about the government-provided supplementary food and make their children consume it regularly,” Rukmani told TOI
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