- Infant’s whole and sole care is taken by parents till the age of 2-3 years. Then the school life begins where along with parents school plays important role to develop children physically fit and intelligent personality. The school life continuous till the age of 17 years which is very crucial time of growth and development of various body organs.
- Maximum day time of 8-10 hours is spent in school where children consume two meals of daye. breakfast and afternoon lunch or lunch and evening snacks. So, definitely nutritional and health assessment/improvement along with education, sports, extracurricular activities, is of prime importance for all schools (government, government aided and private).
- Majority of the government schools children are suffering from Protein Energy Malnutrition, Micronutrient deficiency like Iron deficiency anaemia, Vitamin A deficiency and Iodine deficiency. While in private schools children are suffering with obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. Most of the schools have school canteen facility but lacks advice from nutritionist. Nutritionists must be consulted before planning canteen menu to ensure nutritional quality of food and compliance with nutrition standard as laid down in National Institute of Nutrition (NIN). So schools having canteen need to provide food under guidance of a nutritionist.
Government has initiated few programs to tackle the problem of malnutrition in school going children. Here are few important programs.
- Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) is a program started by government to enhance enrolment, retention and attendance in the schools and simultaneously improve nutritional status of students.
- National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) provides free supply of food grains of 100 grams per child per school day at primary and 150 grams per child per school day at upper primary. Cooking ingredients are food grains, pulses, vegetables, cooking oil and condiments used for cooking meal.
- In young children, iron deficiency is due to increased iron requirements during the periods of rapid growth. Children who suffer from anaemia have delayed development and impaired performance, deficit in intelligence quotient. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched National Iron Plus Initiative as a comprehensive strategy to combat iron deficiency anaemia. There are age specific interventions with iron and folic acid supplementation and de-worming for improving the haemoglobin levels and reducing the prevalence of anaemia for all age groups.
- Bi-weekly 20 mg elemental iron and 100 mcg folic acid per ml of liquid formulation and age appropriate de-worming for preschool-school children of 6-59 months.
- Weekly supplementation of 45 mg elemental iron and 400 mcg folic acid per child per day for children from 1st to 5th grade in Govt. & Govt. Aided schools children 6 to 10 years
- Weekly dose of 100 mg elemental iron and 500 mcg folic acid with biannual de-worming in adolescents (10–19 years). Mainly adolescent girls are the priority.