More than 33 lakh children are malnourished in India and over half of them are in the severe category, PTI reported on Sunday.

The agency received the data in response to a Right to Information query.

According to the Women and Child Development Ministry, as of October 14, there were 17,76,902 severely acute malnourished children and 15,46,420 moderately acute malnourished children in the country.

The World Health Organization defines severe acute malnutrition as very low weight for height, nutritional oedema or a mid-upper arm circumference of less than 115 millimetres. The world body defines moderate acute malnutrition as moderate wasting and/or a mid upper arm circumference greater than 115 millimetres but less than 125 millimetres.

According to the report, Maharashtra had the highest number of malnourished children at 6,16,772, followed by Bihar (4,75,824) and then Gujarat (3,20,465).

Other states with a high number of malnourished children are Andhra Pradesh (2,67,228), Karnataka (2,49,463), and Uttar Pradesh (1,86,640).

There has been a 91% rise in the number of severely acute malnourished children between November 2020 and October 14 this year. The number of such children in November 2020 was 9,27,606.

However, the two numbers are based on different methods of data collection, according to PTI. While last year’s figures were collected by state governments and passed on to the Centre, this year’s figures were directly entered into the Poshan tracker app by anganwadi workers and accessed by the Centre.

Further, while the age group of children for last year’s data was from six months to six years, the age group of this year’s data has not been specified.

The Poshan Tracker app was developed by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to track all anganwadi centres and their beneficiaries.

Last month, the 2021 Global Hunger Index ranked India at the 101st position out of 116 countries. The rank fell from 94 last year and the country was also behind its neighbours Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

However, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development claimed that the methodology used for the index was unscientific.