ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition Launches Diet and Biomarker Study in Ladakh

Leh, June 15, 2024: The ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) officially launched the Diet and Biomarker Study in India (DAB-I) project in Ladakh at a meeting held in the CMO Office, Leh. The event, graced by Chief Guest Dr. Motup Dorje, Director of Medical Services.

Dr. Hemant Mahajan (Scientist, ICMR-NIN, Hyderabad) detailed the objectives, methodology, and progress of the DAB-I study, describing it as a mission-mode project aimed at evaluating food and nutrient intake among various demographics, assessing the prevalence of anemia and nutrient deficiencies, and analyzing food composition. He outlined the study’s design, setting, duration, population, and sampling methodology. Additionally, Dr. Mahajan highlighted the data collection process, including variables and investigations, and provided an update on the data collection status as of May 27, 2024. The study covers 36 states/UTs, utilizing eight schedules and an enumeration sheet for comprehensive household-level data collection.

Dr. Motup Dorje, Director Ladakh expressed his gratitude to ICMR-NIN for conducting this pivotal study, emphasizing the unique dietary habits of Ladakhi people due to geographical isolation. He noted that local diets have sustained communities for centuries, despite deficiencies. Preliminary studies indicated anemia prevalence as high as 92% among women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years), and Dr. Dorje emphasized that the DAB-I study would provide a more accurate picture of anemia, micronutrient levels, and overall diet quality. He urged local colleagues to support the study, stressing the importance of effective communication and local involvement for the project’s success.

Dr. Dolma Chuskit, In-Charge CMO/ District Tuberculosis Officer Leh welcomed the initiative, underscoring the survey’s high profile and potential benefits for the local community. She extended her best wishes to the team, including BMOs, ASHA workers, and field staff, for a successful and timely survey.

Further remarks (by Dr. Devraj P, ICMR-NIN, Hyderabad) acknowledged the swift approval process, with permissions granted within a week. The appointment of a nodal officer and the support from the previous CMO were appreciated. Emphasis was placed on the need for assistance from BMOs in navigating unfamiliar areas and ensuring the study’s proper methodology. The upcoming NHFS-6 study was mentioned, with expectations that the DAB-I project would provide clear insights into anaemia picture, unexplored food recipes and nutritional habits in Ladakh.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks, expressing appreciation for the support and collaboration from all involved parties.

The event was graced by the DABS-I Ladakh Team from ICMR-NIN, Hyderabad, which included Dr. Hemant Mahajan, Scientist (Assistant Director); Dr. Devraj P, Scientist (Assistant Director); Dr. Virendra Panpatil, Senior Technical Officer; Dr. Aruna Talari, Scientist (Diet Expert); Raju Naik, Information Technology Expert; and Sunu PV, Anthropologist.

Additionally, the event included DABS-I Ladakh project staff such as medical officers, senior research fellows, senior technical assistants, phlebotomists, and field workers. BMOs and officials/officers from the CMO office also attended the event..