When it comes to our diet, every food stuff has something good or not so good going for it. But proteins are perhaps the only macronutrients that are clear winners, extremely important for overall metabolic health. That is why the results of a just-concluded survey of 2762 Indian adults – where it was found that a meagre 9% of the respondents were actually consuming the daily requirement of their Recommended Dietary Allowance of proteins – is an alert for all of us.
Whether it is to increase muscle mass and strength, make the bones stronger, be that element of your diet which really can fill you up quickly and reduce those off-meal cravings, or improving metabolism, or helping you stay fit as you age – proteins were of course always known as a key pillar of a balanced diet. But, in several Indian sub-populations, it is the carbohydrates and fats that are dominant. Which is why the results of this new survey are significant.
Once every year, between July 24 and 30, The Protein Week is observed, and this has been on for five years now. This time around, Danone India (a multi-local food and beverage company) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) launched The Protein Week with a first-of-its-kind Quality of Life (QoL) survey among Indian adults. The survey was administered by the global research agency, IPSOS, in May-June, 2021 across the eight Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chennai, Indore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Patna, representing 4 geographical zones of India - North, South, East and West. It was based on a QoL questionnaire formulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and additional tools. The survey assessed QoL in relation to physical health, psychological health, social relationships and environment.
Some of the key findings of the survey are:
- Nearly one in two Indian adults have poor quality of life
- Dietary assessment during the survey highlighted that only 9% of the respondents fulfilled the daily requirement of protein, similar concern was also observed for other micronutrients
- More women have poor QoL than men (50.4% vs 42%) and similarly physical health scores of women are less than for men
- Kolkata recorded the highest percentage of adults (65%) with a poor QoL score, followed by Chennai (49.8%), Delhi (48.5%), Patna (46.2%), Hyderabad (44.4%), Lucknow (40%) and Indore (39.2%). Mumbai had the highest percentage of adults (68%) recording a good QoL
- Almost all (99%) respondents agreed that physical health and nutrition plays an important role in having a good QoL while nearly 98% of the study population was of opinion that a protein-rich diet is important for a good Quality of Life.
- Only 9% of the respondents fulfilled the daily requirement of protein (Recommended Dietary Allowance). A huge gap also existed for the intake of 10 micronutrients that are important for immune function and overall health.
Speaking on the findings of the survey, Mr. Himanshu Bakshi, Managing Director, Danone India, said, “The Protein Week is a platform to drive conversations and build awareness about protein, making it a part of mainstream public health dialogue. This year, we have conducted a survey to assess the quality of life of Indian adults with an aim to establish the impact of nutrition on physical health and quality of life. Physical health is one of the factors which one can influence with right nutrition choices and staying active. Although more than 90% of the respondents were aware about the role of physical health and nutrition only 9% of respondents were getting adequate protein in their diet, which is alarming. Through our collaboration with CII and nutrition experts we endeavour to sensitize Indian adults about the role of nutrition and protein in improving quality of life.”
Sharing her views, Ms. Vinita Bali, Chairperson, CII National Committee on Nutrition, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with Danone India for the 5th edition of The Protein Week. The findings of the recently conducted survey once again dimensionalise the gap in nutrition, even amongst the upper income groups in our cities. This can only be tackled by taking personal responsibility for the choices we make as consumers and, on the supply side, by making nutritious food more available, accessible and affordable. At CII, we continue to work closely with private and public sector companies, regulatory and development agencies, state governments and NGOs to address this challenge”.
Indian diets are mainly cereal based which makes it challenging to meet the protein needs both in terms of quantity as well as quality. This is a well-known fact backed by nutrition research and academic enquiry. The PRODIGY study conducted in 2015 highlighted that 9 out of 10 people had a diet deficient in protein, irrespective of the gender and the socio-economic group and over 90 percent Indians were unaware of their daily requirement for protein. Similar results about protein deficient Indian diets have been reported by many researchers previously. Further to this, lack of adequate nutrients in the diet have resulted from an increase in ‘emotional eating’ especially ‘comfort foods’ that are rich in sugar and fat. A recent study on dietary diversity during the pandemic and lockdowns, among urban Indian households, reported that 84% of them had low Food Diversity Scores for most of the food groups. Diet and lifestyle, the two factors playing a key role in QoL perception, are modifiable risk factors that can easily be improved with appropriate guidance and intervention strategies. Therefore, an improvement in nutritional status stands to be an influencing factor on the overall QoL.
Lifestyle and environmental changes over the years have adversely impacted our quality of life. Poor dietary habits, erratic sleep schedule and sedentary life have played a part in it but with the ongoing pandemic, focus on health & wellness has become centre stage. It is imperative to maintain a healthy lifestyle through appropriate diet and adequate physical activity. It is critical that people are aware that a balanced and nutritious diet with emphasis on protein and other essential nutrients can contribute to a healthy immune system, while maintaining good strength and mobility. Despite knowledge that protein is critical for multiple reasons as a part of one’s diet, most people are not consuming sufficient protein. In fact, they are consuming way too little. This must change.
- About Danone India
Danone is a leading multi-local food and beverage company building on health-focused and fast-growing categories in 3 businesses: Essential Dairy & Plant-Based products, Waters and Specialized Nutrition. With its ‘One Planet. One Health’ frame of action, which considers the health of people and the planet as intimately interconnected, Danone aims to inspire healthier and more sustainable eating and drinkingpractices. In India, Danone started its nutrition business in 2012 through the acquisition of the nutrition portfolio from Wockhardt Group. Danone India embodies a holistic approach offering a full range of products across life stages under recognized brands like Aptamil, Neocate, Farex, Protinex, Dexolac and Nusobee.