Nutrition transition in Bangladesh: is the country ready for this double burden

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Summary

Malnutrition has dominated Bangladesh development, encouraged by the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Programme under the first Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp) World Health Organization, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. To date, all the SWAps for health, nutrition and population well-being have identified malnutrition as a priority. Donors, United Nations organizations and non-governmental organizations provide extensive support to prevent and tackle malnutrition in the country. The government has delineated an effective policy response to the high prevalence of undernutrition. Bangladesh has a wide range of policies encouraging appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, 6 months of paid maternity leave in the public sector, school meals for vulnerable communities, micronutrient supplementation interventions and more. However, almost all of these efforts address the undernutrition aspect of malnutrition, neglecting the other form of malnutrition – overnutrition. Trend data from national surveys show steady increases in overweight and steady decreases in underweight among women of reproductive age. This paper sheds light on the trend data, showing the transition from under- to overnutrition and the double burden of malnutrition among Bangladeshi women of reproductive age. It also discusses the national policy and programme responses to overweight and obesity in Bangladesh among the same population.

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