Only 3% Indians realise the importance of consuming adequate protein: Study

New Delhi: Although 95 per cent of Indian mothers claim to know protein as a macro-nutrient, only three per cent of the population really understands the prominent functions of protein or why one should consume it daily, reveals a new study.

Across cities, 82 per cent mothers residing in mini-metros such as Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad were unable to correctly associate protein with its functions and attributed low importance to its consumption as a part of balanced meals. Therefore, while eight out of ten mothers believe the protein as ‘important’, protein may not adequately be included in their daily diet. The majority of the mothers (91 per cent) are not able to relate to protein with its crucial functions such as repair of tissues in the body, muscle health and long-term immunity, the study added.

Right to Protein, a nationwide public health awareness initiative, released the findings of a study that uncovers a paradox in India’s daily protein consumption habits. Nielsen surveyed 2,142 mothers across 16 Indian cities, revealing a worrying trend where due to a poor understanding of protein as a macronutrient, Indians consume inadequate levels of proteins.

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Some of the key findings include:

Over 70 per cent Indian mothers strongly believe in common myths such as ‘protein is difficult to digest’, ‘it leads to weight gain’, and ‘it is only for body-builders’.

On an average, 85 per cent mothers incorrectly believe that protein leads to ‘weight gain’ and mentioned that they would prioritise the consumption of vitamins and carbohydrates over protein for their families including for children. Most disturbingly, nearly 80 per cent holds the view that lack of protein does not impact overall health!

Majority of the mothers do not know the most common sources of plant-or-animal-based protein and failed to correctly identify 8 of 11 protein-rich food items presented to them. Furthermore 81 per cent of mothers incorrectly believe that just a regular Indian diet consisting of roti, dal, rice is enough for daily protein needs. As a result, only dairy and pulses are considered as the sources of protein in majority Indian households

“In our country, adequate protein consumption has been a rather under-debated issue when it comes to general discourse on food and nutrients. Very few studies have been published recently that provide insights about the consumption patterns about this ‘major building block’ of our lives. This study is, therefore, an insight in terms of highlighting our knowledge gaps and misconceptions that plague adequate protein consumption”, said Dr. Jagmeet Madan, Eminent Nutrition Expert, Professor, Principal, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science (Autonomous) SNDTWU, Mumbai and National President, Indian Dietetic Association, Supporter of the Right To Protein Initiative

Dr. Suresh Itapu, Nutraceutical Expert, and Director, NutriTech India said: “The Protein Paradox study, reiterates the importance of building a general protein understanding and awareness in India. Any individual or entity can benefit from these insights and take corrective measures to improve quality protein intake, course-correct and eventually reverse the decline in protein consumption, especially among kids.”

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