Impact of the Food Price Hike on Nutritional Status of Women and Children

Malnutrition levels in Bangladesh, particularly among children, are among the highest in the world. The consequences of this have been studied extensively, though progress has been slow and not sustained. This backdrop of persistence and peculiarities of the malnutrition question in Bangladesh has motivated this study to examine how child and maternal nutritional status has been affected due to the sharp rise in food prices. The report found strong evidence that rising food prices have forced a food basket recomposition response that has contributed to a worsening of nutritional status in Bangladesh. The impact has been across the board wealth-group wise, the impact has been most severe for the moderate poor and moderate non-poor households, though the children from poorer households already had a low nutritional status, to begin with. This has flattened out further under a nutrition-income relationship that is characteristic of the malnutrition phenomenon in Bangladesh. Poorer areas have suffered more, where wage adjustments have been relatively modest. In general, adjustments in nominal wage have not been adequate to totally compensate for the rise in food price. Health expenditure cutbacks have been a predominant response as a coping mechanism and this is likely to further deepen the malnutrition impacts, especially for women and children. Therefore, the report concludes that the persistent and puzzling phenomenon of malnutrition has been deepened and made to become more widespread due to the rapid rise in food prices.

Authors: Sulaiman, Munshi; Parveen, Monira; Das, Narayan Chandra
Type: Monograph
Year: 2009