Hyderabad: Quality protein deficiency in the Indian population was found to vary between 4 per cent and 26 per cent in different age groups among urban and rural areas, according to a research published in the Journal of Nutrition. The deficiency was found to be very high in the vegetarian population while it was found to a certain extent among non-vegetarian population that was not taking enough protein.
The study studied the protein consumption pattern of lower, middle and higher income group families from 2010 to 2015. They tabulated the data with the national household protein consumption data and found that despite availability, consumption of high quality protein food was low.
High quality proteins are found in pulses, milk and milk products, mutton and chicken. While the milk output has increased, the consumption patterns evaluated from national data and research showed that it was not reaching low-income groups.
Even in high income groups, it was found that the consumption of milk was minimal and it was not taken as a health drink despite the various flavours in which it is available.
Nutritionist U.M. Sree explained, “At the clinical level, of the 100 patients, we find that 75 of them tell us that they do not like milk and can’t consume it every day. Hence if they are on low-fat and high fibre diets which many of them follow, the intake of protein is considerably less.”
Protein must be taken in adequate quantities and the recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight. The study found that people consumed a lot of cereals as they were easily available in the subsidy programme of the government.
Low-quality proteins in the diet are not a substitute and do not make up for the deficiency. Protein is required to meet the indispensable amino acid requirements of the body and the consumption of pulses and milk must be improved.
The researchers recommended that food subsidy policies must move beyond cereals and become more quality-conscious so that people benefit from what they eat.