Rice is so important to the Asian diet that it may be the main component of
almost all the meals Asians consume. Yet it is this dependence on rice that
contributes to chronic micro-nutrient deficiency in millions. Although rice
is able to provide adequate energy, it has an incomplete amino acid profile
and contains limited amounts of micro-nutrients.
Milling, which produces
white rice – the most commonly eaten form – removes large amounts of
protein, fibre, fat, iron and B vitamins. Therefore, the most common
nutritional problems in poor rice-eating communities are protein-energy
malnutrition andiron, iodine and Vitamin A deficiencies. About half of women
in their reproductive ages in Asia suffer from iron deficiency while Vitamin
A deficiency affects 10-25 per cent of children and pregnant women.
In South Asia, the level of sub-clinical Vitamin A deficiency in
preschoolers may be as high as 1 in 3. Iron deficiency reduces a child's
ability to learn and is a leading cause for maternal deaths. Vitamin A
deficiency may lead to blindness and is a major risk factor in infant and
maternal mortality even at low levels.
Rice is the staple food of Asians. However dependence on
rice leads to chronic micro-nutrient deficiency. This is due to the
consumption of white rice which through milling, loses most of its
nutrients. Millions suffer from protein-energy malnutrition and iron, iodine
and Vitamin A deficiencies. This reduces a child's learning ability,
increases risks of blindness and infant and maternal mortality. ( 59 words )