38% Indians Eat Fried Foods & Only 28% Eat 5 Food Groups: Report

A new report sheds more light on the daily eating patterns of the Indian population which has come under scrutiny in the last few months as several other reports about malnutrition and unhealthy diets among Indians emerged in public. Now, a new global report has highlighted a significant increase in the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as salty or fried snacks, as compared to healthier sources of nutrients such as vegetables, fruits and other micronutrient-rich foods.

The Global Food Policy Report 2024: Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Nutrition was released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) recently and it revealed that It mentions that at least 38 per cent of the Indian population ate unhealthy foods, while only 28 per cent ate all five recommended food groups, which include one starchy staple food, one vegetable, one fruit, one pulse, nut or seed and one animal protein. 

The report also showed that the consumption of such calorie-dense and nutrient-poor foods was not only high in the country but was also increasing. As per the report, 16.6 per cent of the country’s population suffers from malnutrition, due to a lack of poor diet. The number of overweight adults has also gone up, from 12.9% in 2006 to 16.4% in 2016. 

The report also confirmed that the household food budget for packaged, highly processed foods nearly doubled during this period, to 12 per cent from 6.5 per cent. The growing consumption of packaged food isn’t just a cause of concern in India. Still, in other South East Asian countries as well, since micronutrient-rich foods are quite expensive in the region. In contrast, cereals, fats and oils, sugar, and sugary and salty snacks are relatively inexpensive. 

According to the report's analysis of data from a large nationally representative panel of households, India's total annual household expenditure on paid meals consumed away from home increased from Rs 619 billion ($8.8 billion) in 2015 to Rs 820 billion ($11.6 billion) in 2019, a real-term increase of approximately $3 billion.