Every second teen girl in Tamil Nadu is anaemic with abnormal BMI: Survey

The report indicated that Tamil Nadu secured the 13th rank in the country-wide survey.

Published: 27th November 2018 03:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th November 2018 05:41 AM   |  A+A-

Girl child, Child, Abuse

Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: More than half the number of girls between the age of 13 and 19 in the State have mild to severe anaemia and abnormal Body Mass Index (BMI), according to a recent Teenage Girls (TAG) Report released by Naandi - an organisation that works with adolescent girls. The report indicated that Tamil Nadu secured the 13th rank in the country-wide survey.

The health of the teenage girl holds significance not only for her own life, but also for the health and well-being of the children she may have. The survey covered 74,000 teenage girls from 30 states and seven cities, and asked them questions on nine topics including education and health, basic life skills, agency and empowerment within and outside the home and aspirations. Around 4,000 girls were surveyed in the State.

According to the report, while only 47 per cent of the surveyed girls here did not have anaemia, every second teenage girl has it. 42.1, 9.6 and 1.3 per cent had mild, moderate and severe anaemia respectively. Nationally, 48.2 percent of girls had no anaemia. Tamil Nadu fared better than only 10 states in India.

A variety of problems cause anaemia among teenage girls, said Dr JK Reddy, a senior consulting pediatrician with Apollo Hospitals. “Adolescent children grow rapidly and parents need to meet their nutritional needs in an appropriate manner. For example, parents mix dates with milk to provide children with iron and calcium. But these two minerals do not work in combination,” he said. He further added that most health programmes to fight anaemia focus on pregnant women, but it is usually poor health in teens that affect them at later stages.

The report also said that only 44 per cent of the girls have a BMI in the normal range, while nearly 47 per cent are underweight and nine per cent are overweight or obese. Abnormality in BMI also increases with age, it said.

Despite Swatchh Bharat campaigns, one in every three teenage girls did not have toilet facility, the survey stated. Open defecation is tightly inter-knit with the health and nutritional status of the population, said economist K Nagaraj, who has worked on rural economy with the planning commission of several states.
A total of 19 states have better sanitation facilities for girls according to the report. The survey on open defecation matches with these figures. Nearly 30 per cent of teenage girls still defecate in the open. “Open defecation causes a decline in the living standards leading to repeated illness. This generally reflects on the nutritional and health status of the population,” he said.

Poor ‘new age skills’

Another startling finding in the survey was that two-thirds of teenaged girls in the State did not possess enough ‘new age skills’ which include withdrawing money from an ATM, making a document on a computer in English, travelling alone for four hours or more, living alone for a week, asking a male stranger for help or even use WhatsApp, Facebook or other social media platforms. Only one in every five girls said that they can go to a police station and file a complaint, and one in three can withdraw money from an ATM, bank or post office. However more than three-fourth of them could fill forms, make calls on a mobile phone and send or receive emails

Aspired age of marriage

Nearly two-third of all surveyed girls preferred to get married from 21-25, 23.3 per cent preferred 26-30 and nearly 16 per cent wanted marriage only after turning 31. No girl wanted to get married before she was 18 and only 2.5 per cent said that they aspired to get married between 18-20, the survey showed


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