The newly formed State of Uttaranchal in India has diverse agroclimatic conditions. The region is sparsely populated, communication is difficult, and many areas are inaccessible. Natural catastrophes such as droughts and landslides are common. The region lags behind in agroindustrial development, and the level of poverty is high. Earlier studies indicate that the health of the residents in this region is generally poor. Hilly terrain imposes a heavy burden on the health of the people and aggravates the problem of undernutrition. A project was carried out between April and July 2000 to assess the state of undernutrition among indigenous people in the Garhwal Himalayas of the State of Uttaranchal. The term “indigenous” in this context refers to the native born people of the Garhwal Himalayas, also known as Garhwali. A total of 854 respondents were studied in 3 agroclimatic situations—the high hills, mid hills, and low hills, also classified by Gupta (1983) as subtropical (250–1200 m), subtemperate (1200–1700 m), and temperate (1700–3500 m)—as well as in rural and urban settings. The study revealed that over 30% of the population suffers from undernutrition, higher than the average of 20% according to Wardlaw (2000). However, gender did not appear to affect the level of undernourishment. The agroclimatic situation had the maximum negative impact on the nutritional status of the indigenous population. Rural people too were found to be more undernourished than the urban population. It may thus be concluded that the groups identified in the study, namely the people residing in the high hills and the rural population, on whom developmental activities should be focused, are relatively undernourished.
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