Diet of average Indian lacks protein, fruit, vegetables

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New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Compared to an influential diet for promoting human and planetary health, the diets of average Indians are considered unhealthy — comprising excess consumption of cereals, but not enough consumption of proteins, fruits and vegetables, said a new study.

The findings by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and CGIAR research program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) broadly apply across all states and income levels, underlining the challenges many Indians face in obtaining healthy diets.

“The EAT-Lancet diet is not a silver bullet for the myriad nutrition and environmental challenges food systems currently present, but it does provide a useful guide for evaluating how healthy and sustainable Indian diets are,” said the lead author of the research article, A4NH Program Manager Manika Sharma.

“At least on the nutrition front we find Indian diets to be well below optimal.”

The EAT-Lancet reference diet, published by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health, implies that transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food wastage is critical to feed a future population of 10 billion a healthy diet within planetary boundaries.

While the EAT-Lancet reference diet recommends eating large shares of plant-based foods and little to no processed meat and starchy vegetables, the research demonstrates that incomes and preferences in India are driving drastically different patterns of consumption.

The study, a comparison of the Indian diet with the EAT-Lancet reference diet”, co-authored by A4NH”s Manika Sharma and Devesh Roy with IFPRI”s Avinash Kishore and Kuhu Joshi, was recently published in the BMC Public Health.

Using consumption data from the 68th round of the National Sample Survey (2011-12), they compared diets across Indian states and income levels to the EAT Lancet reference diet.

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