10 Facts About Food and Nutrition in India

India is home to a quarter of the world’s undernourished people, but the situation is gradually improving and rates of hunger are dropping. Here are ten things to know. 

1) India is home to 194.6 million undernourished people. That’s three times the entire population of France. 

2) One quarter of all undernourished people on the planet live in India. 

3) The country is home to over one third of the world’s stunted (chronically malnourished) children. Some 38.7 percent of children under 5 are stunted. 

4) Hunger has been dropping at a moderate rate since 1990.  

5) Yet progress in reducing stunting needs further improvement and still lags behind many poorer countries. If progress continues at this rate, India will achieve the current stunting rate of Ghana only by 2030 and that of China by 2055. 

6) India’s economic growth has not been fully translated into higher food consumption, let alone better diets overall, suggesting that the poor and hungry may have failed to benefit much from overall growth. 

7) The rates of obesity and diabetes increased between 2010 and 2014. Today 9.5 percent of adults are diagnosed with diabetes and 4.9 percent with obesity.  

8) Low social status affects women's health and nutrition and makes it more likely that they will give birth to underweight babies.

9) The state of Maharashtra’s Nutrition Mission – a public declaration of intent to reduce malnutrition – has led to a rapid decline in stunting rates. Subsequently, five other states have launched missions based on the Maharashtra model.

10) WFP has been present in India since 1963. Our work there has evolved with the economic growth and changing needs of the country, transitioning from food distribution to supporting Government food-based safety nets such as school meals.

Learn more about hunger and malnutrition from WFP's comprehensive list of Facts About Hunger and Malnutrition.

Sources: Global Nutrition ReportFAO, IFPRI