Five out of the eight states had more stunted children under five in 2019-20 than before. Stunting means having low height for a particular age, and it is associated with hampering of cognitive abilities in childhood. And three out of the eight saw a rise in wasting (low weight for a particular height) among children under five.
Though its impact is considered to be short-term than stunting, wasting makes a child more susceptible to infections, and is associated with increased child mortality.
India’s epidemiological transition began after economic liberalisation boosted urbanisation, and low prevalence of healthy habits catapulted the rise of “lifestyle-induced” diseases. Developed states tend to have a higher prevalence of such non-communicable diseases than nutritional diseases, which are higher in relatively underdeveloped states.
Nearly one in four men had a pre-diabetic condition, or had diabetes, as recorded by the 2019-20 survey. And about one in five had hypertension and blood pressure-related ailments. These are all conditions that can lead to complications in the event of a Covid-19 infection.
Data from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, released in October, showed the stark difference. Without co-morbidities, 0.2 per cent of Covid-19 patients below the age of 45 died. But with ailments such as these, the case fatality rate rose to 8.8 per cent.
Even for seriously ill Covid-19 patients above the age of 60, when immune responses are weaker, those with co-morbidities have a higher chance of dying (one in four) than those without (one in 20).