Indian Paradox Case Study

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Why India cut down on calories as it grew (The Indian Paradox)

As Indian economy grows, data broadly shows a fall in calorie consumption. By Hyacinth Zia

The Indian economy has recently grown at historically unprecedented rates and is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Real GDP per head grew at 3.95% a year from 1980 to 2005, and at 5.4% a year from 2000 to 2005. Measured at international prices, real per capita income in India, which was two-thirds of Kenya’s in 1950, and about the same as Nigeria’s, is now two and a half times as large as per capita income in both countries. Real per capita consumption has also grown rapidly, at 2.2% a year in the 1980s, at 2.5% a year in the 1990s, and at 3.9% a year from 2000 to 2005. Although the household survey data show much slower rates of per capita consumption growth than do these national accounts
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Today, more than three quarters of the population live in households with per capita calorie consumption below 2,100 per day in urban areas and 2,400 per day in rural areas – numbers that are often cited as “minimum requirements” in India. A related concern is that anthropometric indicators of nutrition in India, for both adults and children, are among the worst in the world. Furthermore, the improvement of these measures of nutrition appears to be slow relative to what might be expected in the light of international experience and of India’s recent high rates of economic growth. Indeed, according to the National Family Health Survey, the proportion of underweight children remained virtually unchanged between 1998-99 and 2005-06 (from 47% to 46 % for the age group of 0-3 years). Under nutrition levels in India remain higher than for most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, even though those countries are currently much poorer than India, have much slower growth, and have much higher levels of infant and child

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