One in eight or more than 21 million people, cannot afford a nutritious diet in Bangladesh, says a new report.
Local food culture contributes to overconsumption of rice and nutrient poor foods; and the nutritional needs of adolescents and the elderly remain largely unaddressed, it said.
The Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh and World Food Progamme(WFP) on Thursday released the findings from a comprehensive analysis of the availability and affordability of a healthy diet.
This situation is exacerbated for girls when adverse gender norms and practices such as early marriage and pregnancy come into play, the report, entitled Fill the Nutrient Gap, reveals.
“I would like to extend my gratitude for the policy recommendations that have come from the Fill the Nutrient Gap analysis” said Zakir Hossain Akanda, Member Secretary of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh, UNB reported.
“This analysis gives us new insights on the food system, food environment, and also the affordability of nutritious diet for the poor people of Bangladesh.”
Over the past three decades, the government has made great strides in lifting 165 million people out of poverty, according to WFP.
“Bangladesh is a bright example of how Government commitment and coordinated actions can have transformative effects for the population,” said Alpha Bah, Deputy Country Director of WFP in Bangladesh.
“One of the most effective ways of addressing poverty and food insecurity is to reach vulnerable families and communities through the country’s many social safety nets. WFP’s technical expertise has helped the Government improve the reach and impact of some of the most nutrition-sensitive social safety nets, and as a result, the needs of millions of women and their children to healthy and nutritious diets have been met.”
Yet, with high rates of stunting (31 per cent), wasting (8 per cent), micronutrient deficiencies, and a population which is increasingly overweight and obese, a lot remains to be done.
The report calls for urgent actions to improve healthy diets, provide better access to diverse and safe nutritious food.
It also calls to invest in the promotion of supply and demand for nutritious foods, promote healthy dietary habits, incorporating diverse food items at all levels of society.
It laid emphasis on empowering women and girls to improve their nutritional status and the human capital of the population.