A well-educated woman is likely to look after her child’s health far more than those who are not. This was the outcome of a survey by Health and Family Welfare Ministry conducted across India. The survey observed 1.2 lakh children and found that mothers with a higher level of education provided better diets to their children. However, children with educated mothers had more access to sugar products and thus were at the risk of higher cholesterol and pre-diabetes than that of uneducated mothers.

Mothers with a higher level of schooling were able to provide a better diet than those who were illiterate or less educated, reveal the findings of Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey.

The Survey

The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) recorded the nutrition data of 1.2 lakh children between 2o16 and 2018. It measured their food consumption, anthropometric (the study of measurements and proportions of the human body) data, micronutrients, anaemia, iron-deficiency and signs of any non-communicable diseases. The data was then compared with different characteristics of the human population that might alter children’s lifestyle and nutrition like caste, religion, residential area and mothers’ schooling.

The comparison with mothers’ schooling revealed some significant relations and conclusions.

  • Mothers with a higher level of schooling were able to provide a better diet than those who were illiterate or less educated.
  • 53 percent mothers of adolescents aged between 10 to 19 never attended any school.
  • 31 percent of the mothers of children up to four years of age and 42 percent of children aged between five to nine never attended school.
  • Only 39 percent mothers have completed 12th grade or more which could further be categorized into 20 percent of mothers of preschoolers, 12 percent mothers of schoolgoing kids and 7 percent mothers of adolescents.
  • The nutrition deficiency in the children, infant to young,  was indicated by the diet diversity, minimum frequency of meal, and the minimum acceptable diet of the child.

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Based on diet diversity:

The CNNS study shows that only 11.4 percent of children of uneducated mothers received diverse meals. While, on the other hand, 31.8 percent of children with an educated mother (at least till grade 12) received an adequate diverse diet.

Based on the minimum acceptable diet

A minimum acceptable diet with adequate minerals is imperative for a good health. The CNNS study revealed that mothers with no schooling failed to provide the minimum diet and nutrition. Only 3.9 percent of the children of those mothers had a minimum diet while 7.2 percent received iron-rich food. Mothers who attended the school scored a little better in providing the minimum nutritious diet to the children. 9.6 percent of the children received the minimum diet and 10.3 percent received iron-rich food.

Amidst children aged between two to four, 49.5 percent with uneducated mother consumed egg and milk, while 80.5 percent of the kids with educated mother (schooling completed) received dairy products in their diet.

Besides, the amount of nutritious food like egg, milk and other dairy products consumed by the children was directly proportional to the schooling of the mother and the wealth status of their family. Amidst children aged between two to four, 49.5 percent with uneducated mother consumed egg and milk, while 80.5 percent of the kids with educated mother (schooling completed) received dairy products in their diet.

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Based on the minimum frequency of meal:

The nutrition level of a child fluctuates with how frequently they are provided with the meal. The CNNS study of this aspect revealed a different result. Mothers who were educated, employed and had to travel far for work could not provide diet to their children frequently, unlike the uneducated mothers. The data in this purview read, 36.2 percent of children aged between 6-23 months received frequent meals while in the case of illiterate mothers, it was 50.4 percent.

Other criteria of the results:

The level of stunted growth and low weight was higher in the children of mothers with no education as opposed to the children of educated mothers. The level of anaemia was also higher, up to 44.1 percent, in the children of uneducated mothers while for the children of educated mothers, it was 34.6 percent.

However, the amount of sugar, cholesterol and risk of early diabetes was higher in the children of educated mothers than those of uneducated mothers due to higher relative prosperity. The pre-diabetes level in the children of the educated mother was 15.1 percent against 9.6 percent for the children of uneducated mothers. Besides, the level of cholesterol in children had a reading of 6.2 percent versus 4.8 percent.

Conclusion on a similar survey by BMC Pediatrics:

In research published by BMC Pediatrics in 2012 revealed a  similar survey in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 where 40 percent of the children were stunted and maternal education and awareness had a strong impact on the results. As a conclusion from the survey, which seems to be applicable for the present survey also, BMC Pediatrics writes, “Overall, mothers’ education persists as a strong predictor of child’s nutritional status in urban slum settings, even after controlling for other factors. Given that stunting is a strong predictor of human capital, emphasis on girl-child education may contribute to breaking the poverty cycle in urban poor settings.”

Picture By: Baby Center.com

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.

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