The National Nutrition Survey has found that the average per head calorie intake in the country has declined by 250 calories per day over the last 32 years.
The average per head calorie intake declined to 1868 per day in 1995-96 from 2118 in 1962-64, disclosed the survey conducted by Prof Khurshid Jahan of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, Dhaka University.
A five member advisory committee comprising Prof, Kamaluddin Ahmed, National Professor Nurul Islam Prof, Rehman Sobhan, Prof, Mosharraf Hossain and Dr Sekander Hayet supervised the survey.
The National Nutrition Survey was undertaken in September 1994 at the invitation of the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC) with financial help of the World Bank.
The survey report was released at a press conference yesterday at the conference room of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
Prof. Khurshid Jahan said that the survey was conducted on the basis of age, sex and physical activity level of 7,000 people selected at random from 41 districts.
The survey found that the average per head calorie intake was 1868 per day in the country against the average daily requirement of 2039.
Prof Jahan termed the malnutrition situation as alarming particularly for the children and pregnant mothers. Due to malnutrition there are possibilities of the disabled and handicapped population increasing in the country, she said.
Prof, Rehman Sobhan, Prof Kamaluddin Ahmed and Prof Mosharraf Hossain were also present at the press conference.
Prof Jahan said that since 1964 when the first Nutrition Survey was conducted, the average consumption of foodgrains and most other kinds of food as well as nutrients have been declining.
The survey showed that only 26.5 per cent of the surveyed population are able to fulfil their daily calorie requirements. Only 28.8 per cent of the rural population and 18.1 per cent of the urban population are able to meet the requirement.
"Great majority of both the rural and urban poor are suffering from acute malnutrition, but the food consumption levels of the urban poor are much lower than that of the majority of rural poor," the report said.
Earlier two nutrition surveys were conducted in 1975-76 and 1981-82.
The data from all these surveys show that average per head calorie intake in the rural areas of Bangladesh is steadily declining. However, the calorie intake in urban areas, which is less than the rural areas, has remained more or lees the same.