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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 247-251

Prakriti (constitution of body) and nutritional status in children: An exploratory study

Department of Kaumarabhritya, SDM Institute of Ayurveda and Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission28-Sep-2021
Date of Decision13-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance20-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication29-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Reena Kulkarni
Department of Kaumarabhritya, SDM Institute of Ayurveda and Hospital, Anchepalya, Bengaluru 560074, Karnataka.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jism.jism_79_21

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Introduction: Prakriti (constitution of body) signifies individuality and determines the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. It is a unique trait that is specific to individuals and it is determined at conception based on the predominance of dosha. Vataja, Pittaja, Kaphaja, Vata pitta, Pittakapha, Kaphavata, and Sannipataja are the seven types of Prakriti described in the classics. Nutritional status is the reflection of the quality of health as a result of a nutritious diet consumed and its optimum utilization in the body. prakriti influences individuals’ nutritional status via digestion; their metabolism; and also their physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the impact of prakriti on the nutritional status of children aged 5–10 years. Materials and Methods: Children aged 5–10 years visiting an Ayurveda hospital for a routine health checkup were screened with a standard prakriti questionnaire. Their nutritional status was assessed in terms of their height, weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and BMI. Prakriti in relation to nutritional status was analyzed by using SPSS 20. Results: Among the 573 children screened, 22 children (3.8%) were of Vata prakriti, three children (0.5%) Pitta prakriti, 31(5.4%) Kapha prakriti, 97 (16.9%) Vata pitta, a maximum of 260 (45.3%) Vatakapha, and 160 (27.9%) Pittakapha prakriti. On analysis of nutritional status, 85 children were observed to be malnourished (14.8%), 125 underweight (21.8%), 215 normal (37.5%), 62 overweight (10.8%), and 86 obese (15.1%). Conclusion: The majority of children belonged to Dwandwa prakriti, especially Kapha dominant. Most children with Kapha dominance were well nourished and had a tendency of being overweight as compared with others. Children with Pitta predominant Prakriti were moderately nourished and had excellent metabolic activity, leading to a less chance for being overweight. Nutritional status correlates well with the Prakriti descriptions.

Keywords: Anthropometry, Ayurveda, nutritional status, Prakriti, school children

How to cite this article:
Kulkarni R, Manoj C S, Srilakshmi C. Prakriti (constitution of body) and nutritional status in children: An exploratory study. J Indian Sys Medicine 2021;9:247-51

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni R, Manoj C S, Srilakshmi C. Prakriti (constitution of body) and nutritional status in children: An exploratory study. J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 23];9:247-51. Available from: https://www.joinsysmed.com/text.asp?2021/9/4/247/334263

  Introduction Top

Prakriti is the genetic makeup of a person.[1],[2],[3] Enormous importance is given to understanding the prakriti of an individual in Ayurveda. Every individual is understood as having a certain Prakriti based on specific physical, mental, and emotional attributes.[4] The Dosha predominant at the time of conception in the mother and father decides the Prakriti of an individual as Vatala, Pittala, or Shleshmala or in combinations.[5],[6] Further, these are influenced by the genetic material of parents (Shukra and Shonita), epigenetic factors including external influences, diet and regimen of the mother, ethnicity (Jathi), familial traits (Kula), ecology (Desha), age (Vaya), and specific nature (Pratyatmaniyata).[7] The degree of expression of these traits determines the individual’s personality and also the variations seen with Shareera Prakriti (phenotypic variation) and Manasika Prakriti (psychic variation). Individual Prakriti exhibit unique physical, physiological, mental, and emotional attributes as well as susceptibility for definite disorders.[8],[9],[10] Moreover the build and bulk of the body are influenced by the individual’s constitution. Thus, Vata prakriti people are lean and prone to Vatavyadhi.[11] A lot has been discussed on Prakriti and its influence in the adult population. The influence of a child’s Prakriti on stress, stressors, and coping methods related to academics has already been documented.[12] Very few studies are available on the relationship of Prakriti with the nutritional status in children. They have shown that Prakriti is directly related to BMI in the adult population.[13] This research work explores the relationship of Prakriti with nutritional anthropometry in school children.


  • To evaluate Prakriti and its relationship with nutritional status in children aged 5–10 years.

  •   Materials and Methods Top

    Study Setting

    Kaumarabhritya outpatient department of Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Institute of Ayurveda and Hospital (S.D.M.I.A.H.), Bengaluru

    Source Population

    School children attending regular yearly health checkups between October and December 2019 at Kaumarabhritya outpatient department of S.D.M.I.A.H., Bengaluru

    Study Population

    School children aged 5–10 years visiting S.D.M.I.A.H. for regular yearly health checkups.


  • Research Design and Sample Size: Cross-sectional observational study in 573 apparently healthy children aged between 5 and 10 years

  • Inclusion criteria

    1. Children aged 5–10 years visiting S.D.M.I.A.H. for health checkups

    2. Children willing to participate in the survey with parental assent

    Exclusion criteria

    1. Children suffering with chronic systemic illnesses and debilitating disorders

    2. Known cases of inborn errors of metabolism and endocrinal diseases

    Methodology of Study

  • Recruitment: Apparently healthy eligible children visiting the outpatient department of the S.D.M.I.A.H. and those studying in nearby schools of Bengaluru were recruited for the study.

  • Ethical Considerations

  • Clearance from the Institutional Ethics Committee was obtained (Vide Ref. - IEC No. SDMIAH/IEC/02/2019, IEC dated 26/2/2019, CTRI Ref No: REF/2020/02/032016).

  • Informed assent was obtained from the parent/ guardian/ teacher prior to recruitment.

  • Procedures and data collection

    Overall, 573 children aged between 5 and 10 years attending the outpatient department were screened and interrogated for general health status. Those fulfilling the inclusion criteria were assessed for Prakriti by using a standardized Prakriti assessment tool.[14],[15],[16] Nutritional status of the children was assessed by using anthropometry by a direct clinical examination with standard instruments and noted in the assessment form. Height and weight were noted in the metric system, using the technique recommended by Jelliffe.[17] A stadiometer with an accuracy of 0.1 cm was used to measure the height. The children were made to follow the standard procedure of the measurement of height. The weight of the participants was assessed without them wearing their footwear and with them wearing light clothing; weight was measured by using an electronic weighing scale with an accuracy of 100 g. Weight was recorded to the nearest value. Midarm circumference and head circumference were measured by using a standard measuring tape. All the measurements were taken by medical trainees with prior training and sensitization on recording Prakriti features and anthropometry. BMI was calculated by using standard BMI calculators.

    Statistical analyses

    The inferences for the relationship of Prakriti with the nutritional status were analyzed by assessing means, standard deviation, standard error, and cross-tabulations using SPSS version 20.

      Result Top

    Out of the 573 children screened, 22 were Vata, three were Pitta, 31 were Kapha, 97 were Vatapitta, 260 were Vatakapha, and 160 belonged to Pittakapha Prakriti [Figure 1]. Male preponderance (56%) was seen as compared with female preponderance (44%) [Figure 1]. Among them, 24% were between 10 and 11 years, 15% were between 9 and 10 years, 12% were between 8 and 9 years, 24% were between 7 and 8 years, 17% were between 6 and 7 years, and the remaining 8% were between 5 and 6 years.
    Figure 1: Baseline characters showing Prakriti, gender, height, and weight in Prakriti

    Click here to view

    On assessing body build, the majority of Vatakapha (82), Pittakapha (42), and Vata Pitta (32) Prakriti had small weakly developed bodies and the remaining in Kapha related Prakriti were moderate and well built. The analysis of height with regard to Prakriti indicated that children with Vataprakriti had comparatively less height, those with Pitta were moderately tall, and those with Kapha dominant Prakriti were tall [Figure 1]. Children with Kapha dominant Prakriti exhibited good weight, followed by Vata Prakriti and Pitta Prakriti in order [Figure 1]. Children with Kapha dominant Prakriti had good waist circumference, were moderate in Pitta, and were less in Vata and Vata related Prakriti [Figure 2]. On the analysis of hip circumference in relation with Prakriti, at the outset, children with Kapha and Kapha dominant Prakriti had greater hip circumference, were moderate in Pitta, and were less in Vata Prakriti. The tendency of wasting was more in Vata Prakriti, and the tendency of overweight was more in Kapha dominant Prakriti [Figure 2]. The tendency of the waist-to-hip ratio being greater than 0.8 was seen more in Kapha and Vatakapha dominant Prakriti [Figure 2]. BMI characteristics in various Prakriti revealed that the majority of children with Vataprakriti had a tendency toward malnourishment, 50% of children in Pitta and Vata-Pitta Prakriti looked undernourished, and the majority of children with Kapha, Vata-Kapha, and Kapha-Pitta Prakriti were well nourished. Overweight was seen to be related more to Kapha and Vata-Kapha Prakriti [Figure 2].
    Figure 2: Prakriti in relation with waist, hip circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and BMI

    Click here to view

      Discussion Top

    Prakriti is the biological endowment of an individual that determines the characteristics of the body, psyche, social skills, metabolic activity, and accomplishments related to that individual.[11] Environment, diet, and training do influence the phenotypical characteristics. Each Prakriti individual, by nature, is susceptible to specific diseases. Thus, Prakriti serves as a basic requirement, especially for the Ayurveda physician to proceed in terms of the diagnosis and management of the disease. Much research on Prakriti and its correlates (physiologically and pathologically) has been carried out in the recent past. Most of the research has been found to concentrate on phenotypical characteristics, metabolic differences, correlates with the HLA gene, platelet aggregation, blood group etc.[13],[18],[19] All these works have predominantly focused on the adult population, and there is hardly any research with regard to the assessment of Prakriti in children and its correlates. One study drew a relationship between Prakriti and nutritional status based on BMI, but this was conducted in the adult population.[15] The incidences of malnutrition and its related illnesses are observed more in children. Knowing the influence of Prakriti on nutritional status opens up a new paradigm in the outcomes of nutritional disorder management. Therefore, this study becomes relevant owing to its aim to assess the relationship of Prakriti with nutritional status in children. Children aged 5–10 years were selected, as it is easy to access them being in the schoolgoing age group, administer questionnaires, and interact with them. These children often visit the study setting for yearly health checkups. Prakriti assessment was done on the basis of direct personal interaction and observation by using a standardized Prakriti assessment questionnaire.[13] As a large population of children was involved, a trained group of assistants was engaged to assess the Prakriti, measuring anthropometry in children to minimize interobserver variation. The majority of the children had height, weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, BMI, and waist-to-hip ratio as per the standard age requirement. However, in relation to Prakriti, Kapha and Kapha dominant Prakriti presented with a higher rate of growth and bulk whereas pitta and Vata exhibited medium growth. Children with an increased waist-to-hip ratio (more than 0.8) were seen to be again associated with Kapha and Kapha dominant Dvandva prakriti. This indicates that the risk to develop obesity is more likely observed in Kapha, Kaphavata, and Kaphapitta Prakriti. Vata and Prakriti, Pitta Prakriti and Pitta vata people did not exhibit this risk at their current age. On BMI analysis, most of the children with Kapha and Vatakapha dominance were observed to be well nourished and presented with a tendency of overweight as compared with others. Children with Pitta predominant Prakriti were moderately nourished and had excellent metabolic activity, leading to less chances for overweight. Further, this may be attributed to the innate qualities of each Prakriti. BMI and waist-to-hip ratio are regarded as sensitive indicators for diagnosing malnutrition.

      Conclusion Top

    A cross-sectional survey was done to assess Prakriti in children aged 5–10 years and to assess its impact on nutritional status. Overall, 573 apparently healthy children were screened, among whom Dwandva Prakriti was predominantly diagnosed. All of them had their anthropometrical parameters within the age range. However, on assessing the influence of Prakriti, it was noted that Kapha and Kapha dominant Prakriti presented with a higher rate of growth and bulk whereas Pitta and Vata exhibited medium growth. The risk to develop obesity was more likely observed in Kapha, Kaphavata, and Kaphapitta Prakriti, Vata Prakriti, Pitta Prakriti, and Pittavata people did not show this risk at their current age. Pitta Prakriti presented with excellent metabolic activity. The tendency toward undernutrition was seen in Vata predominant Prakriti. The findings of the study could be used as a base for evaluating the influence of Prakriti and related various physiological parameters on the growth and development of children on a larger scale with some more invasive parameters.


    The authors acknowledge the support and guidance of Dr. B. Yashoverma, secretary SDM Educational society, Ujire and Dr. Jagadeesh Kunjal, Principal S.D.M.I.A.H., Bengaluru. Special mention should be made of the cooperation extended by the principals of various schools and the children who participated in the study.

    Financial Support and Sponsorship

    The research was funded by Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bengaluru.

    Conflicts of Interest

    There are no conflicts of interest.

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