ICMR Unveils Dietary Guidelines, Links 56% of India’s Diseases to Diet

by Ella

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed on Wednesday that an alarming 56.4% of the total disease burden in India stems from unhealthy dietary habits. This announcement accompanied the release of 17 dietary guidelines aimed at addressing essential nutrient deficiencies and combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity and diabetes.

According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), a subsidiary of the apex health research body, adopting healthy diets and engaging in physical activity could significantly reduce the prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD), hypertension (HTN), and prevent up to 80% of type 2 diabetes cases.


“Following a healthy lifestyle can avert a considerable number of premature deaths,” the ICMR stated. It highlighted the surge in consumption of highly processed foods containing excessive sugars and fats, combined with reduced physical activity and limited access to diverse foods, as major contributors to micronutrient deficiencies and overweight issues.


The NIN underscored several key recommendations, including limiting salt intake, moderating the use of oils and fats, engaging in regular exercise, reducing sugar consumption, and minimizing the consumption of ultra-processed foods. Additionally, it advocated for adopting a healthy lifestyle, including reading food labels to make informed choices.


The Dietary Guidelines for Indians (DGIs) were developed by a multidisciplinary committee of experts led by Dr. Hemalatha R., Director of ICMR-NIN, and underwent rigorous scientific review. The 17 guidelines outlined in the DGI are aimed at promoting evidence-based practices to achieve the objectives outlined in the National Nutrition Policy.


Dr. Hemalatha emphasized, “The most effective and sustainable solution to malnutrition in all its forms lies in ensuring the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutrient-rich foods while encouraging the consumption of diverse foods.”

Dr. Rajiv Bahl, Director General of ICMR, acknowledged the significant dietary shifts in India over recent decades, resulting in a rise in non-communicable diseases alongside persistent undernutrition issues. He expressed satisfaction with the guidelines’ relevance to India’s evolving food landscape, noting the inclusion of practical advice on food safety, choosing minimally processed foods, interpreting food labels, and promoting physical activity.

“I am confident that these guidelines will complement the government’s initiatives aimed at promoting comprehensive nutrition and enhancing the health of our populace,” Dr. Bahl concluded.



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