Calorie intake by Bangladeshis was falling significantly, faster in urban areas, by official count. It fuels twin fears of adverse impacts on nutrition level and productivity programmes.
Nutritionists and economists said the fall could increase the "malnutrition and productivity vulnerability" among the poor people whose consumption quantum is already below the standard levels.
The per-capita calorie intake dropped by 107.9 kilo-calorie (Kcal) to 2210.4 Kcal a day in 2016 from 2318.3 Kcal six years ago in the country, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey shows.
The latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016 by the BBS has said falling trend in rice intake may have led to lower calorie intake.
According to the HIES 2016, the per-capita calorie consumption in the urban areas decreased deeper by 113.8 Kcal to 2130.7 Kcal per day in 2016 from 2244.5 Kcal in 2010.
However, the calorie consumption in the rural areas decreased a little less, by 104.4 Kcal per day in 2016 from 2344.6 Kcal in 2010, according to the survey data.
Economists and nutritionists said if the calorie consumption is fallen, the malnutrition among some group of people could go up with the result of higher incidence of poverty in the future days.
Assistant Professor at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science of Dhaka University Md Ruhul Amin said the falling trend in average calorie intake at national level could impact on the nutrition levels of some groups of the population, like mothers, children and poor households.
"Since the overall consumption of calorie has decreased, some of the population groups could become more vulnerable in terms of the nutritious food intake. It means their nutrition level in the body will decline and so will productivity. It will ultimately affect poverty alleviation in the country," he told the FE.
The HIES 2016 Project Director, Dr Dipnakar Roy, told the FE they had set a standard per-capita calorie intake at 2122 Kcal per day for calculating poverty in Bangladesh.
"If a person consumes less than 2122 Kcal per day, he will go below the poverty line," he added.
World Bank Lead Economist Dr Zahid Hussain told the FE that the drop in rice consumption may cause a decrease in the calorie intake in Bangladesh.
"Calorie intake in Bangladesh has a direct impact on poverty calculation. If the consumption drops, the vulnerable population can be affected more. So, it is important to maintain the standard calorie intake by all the age groups and poverty levels," he added.
Mr Ruhul Amin said as some of the nutritious food consumptions have also dropped in the food chart of the people, it is the negative news for the country.
However, the downturn in consumption of rice and wheat is good news for the country.
The BBS survey showed that the per-capita rice and wheat consumption dropped to 367.19 grams and 19.83gms per day in 2016 from the levels of 416.61gm and 26gm in 2010 respectively.
HIES data showed that the intake of milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables decreased significantly in 2016 compared to 2010 while that of egg, chicken and fish increased.