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Adolescent Girl Nutrition UPSC NOTE

 Nutritional Concerns of Adolescent Girl

  • Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to undernutrition and anaemia due to the onset of menstruation.

  • National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) — 59.1% of adolescent girls were found to be anaemic.

  • NFHS-4 reported over 41.9% of school-going girls as underweight.

  • Factors responsible for this — Range of factors including – environmental conditions, cultural norms that lack a gender-neutral environment within a household, affects the nutrition uptake in adolescent girls.

  • Current health interventions do not specifically focus on the nutritional statuses of adolescent girls.

  • Poorly balanced and insufficient diets can lead to cognitive impairments that affect one’s academic performance. 

  • Undernourished adolescent girls are also at a higher risk of chronic diseases and pregnancy complications, which can lead to a higher health-care burden on both families and communities, potentially leading to financial instability and increased poverty.

Importance of nutrition

  • To unlock the full potential of India’s future, we have to prioritise the health and nutrition of its adolescent girls.

  • Adolescence is a pivotal period of cognitive development and, therefore, improving access to nutrition during this “second window of opportunity of growth” compensates for any nutrient deficiencies acquired during early developmental stages in the girl child.

  • Adolescent health is a significant indicator of women’s labour force participation in India in the long term.

  • Better nutrition improves every young girl’s prospect to participate in productive activities.

  • Thus, the country beholds a colossal opportunity to add to its nation’s demographic dividend by investing in nutrition interventions in adolescent girls.

  • Investing in girls’ nutrition is not only the moral obligation of the state but also an economic one, with potential returns in the form of greater and more sustainable economic growth of the nation.

  • If our girls are less healthy and less educated, they are less likely to participate fully in society, whether through work, politics, or community involvement.

Steps taken

Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG):

  • To ensure well-being of adolescent girls nutritional and non-nutritional support is being provided.

  • Kishori Health Cards – maintained at the Anganwadi Centre (AWC).

  • Kishori Health Cards – to record the information about the weight, height, Body Mass Index (BMI), along with the services provided to the AG under the scheme.

  • The details of achievements/success made under the scheme were marked on Kishori Card and the card also carried important milestones of AGs life.

  • The revised SAG Scheme has been introduced and subsumed under Saksham Anganwadi & Poshan 2.0. 

  • The targeted beneficiaries under the revised scheme are AGs in the age group of 14-18 years in Aspirational Districts of States including Assam and NE States.

    • Earlier the Scheme covered out-of-school AGs in the age group of 11-14 years.

Scheme for Promotion of Menstrual Hygiene among Adolescent Girls(AGs):

  • In the age group of 10-19 years.

  • To increase awareness among adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene;

  • To increase access to and use of high quality sanitary napkins to adolescent girl;

  • To ensure safe disposal of sanitary napkins in an environmentally friendly manner.

  • Since 2015-16, the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme is supported by National Health Mission through State Programme Implementation Plan (PIP).

  • States/UTs have decentralized procurement of sanitary napkins for ensuring quality standards.

  • The sanitary napkins are sold to the adolescent girls at subsidized rates by the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA).

Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS):

  • To break the intergenerational cycle of anaemia.

  • Weekly supervised IFA tablets to the in-school adolescent boys and girls and out of-school adolescent girls along with biannual albendazole tablets for helminthic control for prevention of iron and folic acid deficiency anaemia.

Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK):

  • Launched on 7th January, 2014.

  • The key principle of this programme is adolescent participation and leadership, Equity and inclusion, Gender Equity and strategic partnerships with other sectors and stakeholders.

  • The programme envisions enabling all adolescents in India to realize their full potential by making informed and responsible decisions related to their health and well-being and by accessing the services and support they need to do so.

  • It introduces community-based interventions through peer educators, and is underpinned by collaborations with other ministries and state governments.

  • Target Groups :

    • The new Adolescent Health (AH) strategy focuses on age groups 10-14 years and 15-19 years with universal coverage, i.e. males and females; urban and rural; in school and out of school; married and unmarried; and vulnerable and under-served.


Way forward

  • Investing in nutrition interventions in adolescent girls.

  • Redefine the interventions such that we not only centre it around good nutrition but also adopt a life-cycle approach, ensuring that no girl gets left behind.

  • This investment can also help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, as well-nourished girls are more likely to have healthy babies and provide better care for their families.

  • A few strategic modifications to existing interventions can significantly expand the scope of its outcomes.

  • The convergence of various government initiatives such as the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) within the umbrella of the POSHAN 2.0 is a step in the right direction, provided it is implemented effectively.

  • Targeted adolescent-oriented schemes such as the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) could include even stronger awareness and nutrition education programmes that would help sustain beneficiary compliance. 

  • Targeted and regionally contextualised Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) efforts around adolescent girls’ nutrition are sure to generate greater demand and the adoption of good practices.

  • Effective convergence and collaborations among all the relevant departments, in a way that fosters a collective endeavour.

  • Routine training of health workers for effective implementation and monitoring of various schemes, and to adapt with an evolving landscape, is also a crucial step in this process.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Adolescent Girl Nutrition UPSC NOTE
Adolescent Girl Nutrition UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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