The recently released National Family Health Survey for the year 2019-20 (NFHS 5) show that the number of persons who are obese and the number of people with below normal Body Mass Index (BMI) is on the rise in Kerala. Meanwhile, anaemia, a condition where a person does not have enough healthy red blood cells, is also increasing in all major age groups in the state.
According to the NFHS 4 for the year 2015-16, the number of men recorded with obesity was 28.5%. In the present survey, this has increased to 36.4%. For women, the obesity rate has gone from 32.4% to 38.1%. While the number of women with below normal BMI has increased from 9.7 to 10.1%, in men, it has gone from 8.5 to 10%.
The data was codified after surveying 10,969 women and 1,473 men across the state in the period July to December 2019.
Meanwhile, children in the state have also shown concerning trends around BMI. About 19% of children under the age of five are underweight. In the past survey, this rate stood at 16.1%. Children in the same age group also show a slight increase in being overweight. The rate has increased from 3.4 to 4%.
Another factor is the increase in anaemia among people across different age groups and sex. Anaemia was found to have increased from 35.7% to 39.4% in children between the age group of six months to four years.
Similarly, 31.4% of pregnant women in the age group of 15 and 49 years were found to be anaemic, as opposed to 22.6% in the past survey. A slight increase, about 2%, was reported among 15 to 49-year-old women with anaemia. There is a 5% increase in the number of teenage girls (15 to 19 years) who reported with anaemia.
Meanwhile, anaemia has considerably shot up among teenage boys (15 to 19 years) in the state, from 14.3 to 27.4%. For men above 49 years, six% reported to have anaemic conditions.
While Kerala has shown an increase in the sex ratio of the total population, the sex ratio at birth for children has lowered. The sex ratio of the population is the number of females per 1,000 males. This has gone from 1,049 to 1,121. The sex ratio at birth for children born in Kerala in the last five years has dipped from 1,047 to 951. This shows that number of children designated as female at birth are less than that of babies designated as male sex at birth.