SYMP 6-3 - Consumption and population in underdeveloped nations: The health impacts of food consumption by high density populations: Case study from Bangladesh

Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 8:45 AM
Portland Blrm 253, Oregon Convention Center
Chiho Watanabe, Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo
Background/Question/Methods  Bangladesh is a densely populated country, where people are heavily dependent  on rice for approximately 80-90% of their dietary energy. Although Bangladesh is the fourth largest country in the production of rice, it cannot produce enough to meet its consumption demands and so imports approximately 10% of its dietary energy supply.  The health impacts of such situation need to be examined not only regarding dietary energy supply but regarding other aspects.  

Results/Conclusions  In Bangladesh there is evidence of an increasing  proportion of overweight individuals (BMI>25) at the same time as a continuing  prevalence of underweight (BMI<18.5) individual, the status of “double burden”, which has been commonly observed in developing countries.  One consequence of this “double burden” is on the growing prevalence of diabetes which is projected to increase as a disease burden into the future. Mortality is associated with lower BMI members of the population, but in those aged over 60 years, higher mortality was reported among those who showed metabolic syndrome. 

In addition to the dietary energy problems associated with this cereal-dependent food consumption patterns there have been reports of micronutrient deficiency. These are largely due to the very low consumption of meat, resulting in deficiency of vitamin A, iron (anemia) and other important minor nutrients.

Socioeconomic factors play important role in determining the nutritional status for different portions of the population. Examples include; the substantial differences in the prevalence of underweight and overweight between the women of the richest vs. poorest quintile; rural-urban differences in respect to chronic energy deficiency and incidences of child malnutrition; and the existence of gender differences in terms of nutrient intake.  

Thus, there seems to be three challenges for the food security in Bangladesh. First, to secure an adequate and stable dietary energy supply.  Second, to increase the intake of non-rice (non-cereal), animal foods, despite its demand for water.  Third, to overcome the culturally influenced socio-economic barriers to achieving more or less equivalent distribution of the food among different subpopulations.