36% of children under five years of age in Bangladesh continue to be affected by different forms of malnutrition
Only one in three children aged 6-23 months are fed the minimum number of recommended food groups in Bangladesh, Unicef said on Wednesday.
The country has progressed in addressing the issue over the last decade, but gaps in equity persist. Only 22% of children in poorer households have a diet that meets minimum diversity, compared with 48 % of children in wealthier households, according to data from the UN agency.
Furthermore, 36% of children under five years of age in Bangladesh continue to be affected by different forms of malnutrition such as stunting, wasting, and overweightness, the statement added.
Unicef analysis of data from 91 countries found that only half of children aged 6-23 months are being fed the minimum recommended number of meals a day, while just a third consume the minimum number of food groups they need to thrive.
Further analysis of 50 countries with available trend data revealed these poor feeding patterns have persisted throughout the last decade.
The report also found that the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting how families feed their children by disrupting essential services and driving more families into poverty.
To deliver nutritious, safe, and affordable diets to every child, the report calls for governments, donors, civil society organizations and development actors to work hand-in-hand to transform food, health and social protection systems by leading key actions, including:
• Increasing the availability and affordability of nutritious foods – including fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish meat and fortified foods – by incentivizing their production, distribution and retailing.
• Implementing national standards and legislation to protect young children from unhealthy processed and ultra-processed foods and beverages, and to end harmful marketing practices targeting children and families.
• Increasing the desirability of nutritious and safe foods through multiple communication channels including digital media to reach parents and children with easy to understand, coherent information.
In the statement, Unicef representative in Bangladesh Tomoo Hozumi said: “We must continue to strengthen our efforts so that all children can benefit from the diverse diets they require to grow, develop and learn to their full potential. Food systems are critical for ensuring nutritious, safe, age-appropriate and affordable food for children.
“The UN Food Systems Summit and the Nutrition for Growth Summit are great opportunities for Bangladesh to reaffirm its commitment towards improving children’s nutrition and build on the progress it has made in the past decades,” he added.