The National Nutrition Week (NNW) is an annual nutrition event initiated by Food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. It is observed throughout the country from 1 to 7 September every year. The main objective to celebrate nutrition week is to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition for health which has an impact on development, productivity, economic growth and ultimately National development.
"Optimal Infant & Young Child Feeding Practices: Better Child Health" is the theme of National Nutrition Week-2017. Good nutrition during infancy and early childhood allows children to grow, develop, learn, play, participate and contribute to society in their later life, while malnutrition tend to impair cognitive ability, physical development, immune function and increased risk of diseases (such as diabetes and heart diseases) in the later life.
While malnutrition can manifest in multiple ways, the ultimate aim is for all children to be free of malnutrition in all its forms. However, many infants and children do not receive optimal feeding. Important measures to promote better child health through optimal infant and young child feeding practices are following-
(a) Adequate maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy and lactation
(b) Promotion of breast feeding by-
(c) Introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond
Breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional requirement of infants around the age of 6 months, therefore other foods and liquids are needed, along with breast milk. The transition from exclusive breastfeeding to introduction of family foods is referred as complementary feeding. It covers a period of 6 months to 24 months of age (even though breastfeeding may continue to two years and above).
This is a critical period of growth during which nutrient deficiencies and illnesses contribute higher rates of undernutrition among children less than five years of age.
Healthy tips for complementary feeding-
Responsive feeding- Feeding young infants requires active care and stimulation, where the caregiver is responsive to the child clues for hunger and also encourages the child to eat. This is referred as active or responsive feeding.
(d) A healthy environment including access to basic services and opportunities for physical activity
Malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem; therefore, it needs a multi-pronged approach. Different sectors such as Health and Family Welfare, Women & Child Development (through ICDS), School Education, Rural Development, Panchayat Raj, Food Safety and Standards Authority, and Agriculture & Allied Sectors are rendering their assistance and co-operation in promoting nutrition for better child health.
Advisory released by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India for National Nutrition Week, 20L7, accessed from www.wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/nnw2017.pdf