Bangladesh has made real progress in advancing nutrition in the last two decades. However, based on the Bangladesh Health and Demographic Survey 2014, an estimated 36% of children under five are stunted, 14% wasted, and 33% are underweight. The 2011/2012 National Micronutrient Survey also shows a high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies among the Bangladeshi population. Almost half of all school children are vitamin D and iodine deficient, while around one in five school children suffer from vitamin A and calcium deficiencies.

Maternal nutrition has also improved in the last decade, but unhealthy food habits are contributing to an increase in overweight and obesity rates among the population. According to the Bangladesh Health and Demographic Survey 2014, from 2004 to 2014 the proportion of married women who were underweight went from 34% to 19%, whereas the proportion of women overweight increased from 9% to 24%. Adolescents account for one fifth of the population and it is estimated that almost half of the adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 are suffering from anaemia.

Bangladesh has made enormous improvements in food security. However, poor diets remain a driver of malnutrition in all its forms. According to the Bangladesh Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016, the average household in Bangladesh spends almost half of its money on food. Income growth and urbanisation are having a negative effect on quality of diets and consumption patterns. It is estimated that by 2030, Bangladesh will have more people with type 2 diabetes than much wealthier nations such as Indonesia and Mexico.

GAIN's contribution

For the past eight years, GAIN Bangladesh has worked through alliances with various stakeholders, including government, private sector, civil society, and academia. Our work with the government and the private sector invests in sustainable and innovative ventures that tackle the national burden of malnutrition. GAIN’s programmes in Bangladesh include Adolescent Nutrition, Better Diets for Children, Large-Scale Food Fortification, and Workforce Nutrition. We also support businesses through the SUN Business Network (SBN). 

To support Bangladesh’s vision to become a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, GAIN works with partners to influence public entities, civil society organisations, academic institutions and businesses to focus on the bottom of the pyramid, i.e. the poorest and most vulnerable people who lack access to nutritious and safe foods.