According to figures tabled in the state legislature on Friday, there are over 8.44 lakh children who are underweight as per ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services), as on December 31, 2013. Of these, 62,500 children are severely underweight, informed the state government in a written reply to an unstarred question by Congress MLA Tejashree Patel.
Strangely, Vadodara had the highest number of children - over 65800 - who are underweight as per the ICDS norms for malnourishment. The district also has an additional 5900 children who are severely underweight.
The tribal district of Dahod along with the state's most urbanised district of Ahmedabad have the second and third highest number of underweight children, respectively. While Dahod has 56600 under-weight and 3500 severely underweight children, Ahmedabad has 55500 underweight and 5700 severely underweight children, the state government figures reveal.
There are similar high number of malnourished children in some of the districts like Banaskantha (55,400), Sabarkantha (53,300) and Panchmahal (55000).
The reply also talks about the various state government schemes like Mission Bal Sukham that is being run to address the grave issue of malnutrition in the state. The government has also been providing "Nutri-candy", fruits (twice a week), to children between the age groups of 3-6 years in anganwadis. Children in tribal areas are also given milk twice a week, the reply added.