The number of underweight children in India has increased in seven of 10 major states in the past four years, while the number of kids with stunted growth has gone up in six of these states, according to the National Family Health Survey for 2019-20.

The survey, released on Saturday, was conducted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and is considered one of the pillars of health planning and policy making in the country. This is the fifth edition of the survey, while the fourth round was conducted in 2015-16.

West Bengal, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Assam and Himachal Pradesh were among the major states where the number of underweight children (under the age of 5) increased in percentage terms, according to the survey.

Himachal Pradesh witnessed the highest jump in this regard, with the percentage of underweight children, going up from 21.2% in 2015-16 to 25.5% in 2019-20. Kerala, with a jump of 3.6 percentage points (from 16.1% to 19.7%) and Telangana, with a 3.4 percentage points rise (from 28.4% to 31.8%), were the other major states with the worst performance. Overall, Jammu and Kashmir, which was a state till August 2019, and has been a Union Territory since, recorded the sharpest rise in the number of underweight children (from 16.6% to 21%).

As far as children with stunted growth are concerned, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana and West Bengal were among the major states whose performance deteriorated since the last survey.

Telangana fared the worst among the 10 biggest states, with the percentage of stunted children going up from 28% to 33.1%. Overall, however, Tripura recorded the steepest rise in this category (from 24.3% to 32.3%).

The National Family Health Survey has been conducted since 1992-’93 and has provided state and national information on fertility, infant and child mortality, family planning practices, maternal and child health, reproductive health, nutrition, utilisation and quality of health and family planning services.

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