Child hunger 'serious' in India while its economy grows fast

FILE - In this Friday, June 3, 2016 file photo, a homeless boy cleans a chicken's foot to prepare it for dinner, collected from chicken shops near a railway track in Gauhati, India. The 2018 Global Hunger Index published Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, shows about 20 percent of Indian children under 5 suffer from acute under-nutrition in the same week the International Monetary Fund projected India to be the world's fastest-growing economy, exposing stark contrasts in the South Asian country. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File)

NEW DELHI — A global hunger index has been released showing about 20 percent of Indian children under age 5 suffer from acute under-nutrition in the same week the International Monetary Fund projected India to be the world's fastest-growing economy, exposing stark contrasts in the South Asian country.

The 2018 Global Hunger Index published Thursday ranks India at 103 out of 119 countries, with hunger levels in the country categorized as "serious." India's ranking has dropped three places from last year.

The report by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhlife says the only country with worse child wasting — low weight for height — is war-torn South Sudan.

Earlier this week, the IMF said India's economy is poised to grow by 7.3 percent in the 2018-2019 fiscal year on the strength of investments and robust private consumption.

The Global Hunger Index report said India showed improvement in child mortality, which halved from 9.2 percent in 2000 to 4.3 percent in 2018, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2 percent to 38.4 percent.

However, child wasting worsened from 17.1 percent in 2000 to more than 20 percent in 2018. South Sudan's child wasting prevalence is 28 percent.

Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a "critical public health emergency," calling for attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding, the report said.

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