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India spans the spectrum of under- and overnutrition disorders and does so in generous proportions. India also tops the charts globally in the prevalence of risk factors for several chronic diseases. Although Public Health Nutrition (PHN) – both as an academic field as well as a means to improved health – has been around for two centuries in developed countries, it is only now coming to the fore as a conduit for tackling nutrition-related disorders in developing countries. In the light of these issues, we undertook an exercise to map the existing educational initiatives for nutrition, and in particular PHN, in India.
This situational analysis of PHN across India was conducted using a combination of Internet search, telephone calls as well as interviews with experts. Information collected was pooled and tabulated using a snowball approach.
Currently, there are nearly 190 institutes in India that offer one or more nutrition courses, with the majority offering full-time courses. Of these, PHN was offered in less than five institutes across India and opportunities were confined to specialization options/modules.
This situational analysis reveals the huge gap in existing nutrition ventures and points towards the urgent need to undertake newer academic initiatives especially in the field of PHN in India. Reforms in the education and employment sector need to be brought in which may include working towards making the field of nutrition attractive for career pursuit. The focus of this discipline needs to be broadened to, but not limited to, span the entire spectrum from dietetics to research and teaching. Strong synergistic collaborations and academic partnerships with other developed countries should be encouraged to catalyse finding solutions to emerging and/or existing threats to public health problems.
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