Nutritional status of children in rural India: a case study from Tamil Nadu, first in the world to initiate the Mid-Day Meal scheme


In India, during the mid-nineties the Union Government had initiated the Mid-Day Meal schemes in schools to promote primary education on one hand, and to reduce malnutrition on the other. However, Tamil Nadu had launched this program several decades before; during the regime of Mr. Kumarasami Kamraj (1954-1963). An empirical study was undertaken in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu, in the south of India, to understand the nutritional status of the children between 11 and 18 years old. This group is vulnerable, as during this age, individuals undergo physical and mental changes. We calculated the Body Mass Index (BMI) of school children to assess their nutritional status. A total of 806 school children took part in this study and the majority of them were found to be underweight in the study region. Irrespective of their age group and sex, as per the WHO’s international standards, 83% of the students were underweight (BMI< 18.5). Only 16% of the students were in the normal range (BMI 18.5 - 24.9), and of the rest, 0.39% and 0.06% were in the BMI range of 25 - 29.9 (overweight) and 30 - 35.9 (obese), respectively. Based on available data, a regression analysis was carried out. This regression model showed that students’ age, sex and father’s occupation significantly affects their BMI. Further analysis showed that BMI was independent of the students’ blood group. It was concluded that malnutrition among school children can be eliminated by providing additional healthy foods and by improving the Socio Economic Background (SEB) of the region.

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Navaneethan, P. , Kalaivani, T. , Rajasekaran, C. and Sunil, N. (2011) Nutritional status of children in rural India: a case study from Tamil Nadu, first in the world to initiate the Mid-Day Meal scheme. Health, 3, 647-655. doi: 10.4236/health.2011.310109.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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