Fortified rice intake can fight malnutrition in Bangladesh: WFP

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 17 Aug 2017, 18:51:47

Fortified rice intake can fight malnutrition in Bangladesh: WFP

 A new study has shown that consuming fortified rice can significantly reduce anaemia and zinc deficiencies among the poorest women in Bangladesh, reports BSS.

Conducted by research centre ICDDR,B on behalf of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the study measured the impact of providing rice enriched with micronutrients to women participating in the government's Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme. 

The study, released at a function in a city hotel today, also found that fortified rice, when combined with training and cash grants for investment, can also contribute to women's empowerment.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki, and ambassador of Netherlands in Bangladesh Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, among others, addressed the function with Additional Secretary of the Women and Children Affairs Mahmuda Sharmin Benu in the chair. 

Senior director of the Nutrition and Clinical Services Division of ICDDR,B Dr Tahmeed Ahmed presented the findings.

Chumki said the government would recruit a nutritionist at each upazila in the country aiming to address malnutrition problems. 

Bangladesh has done remarkably well in pulling down malnutrition rate particularly stunting children in the past couple of years, she said, adding, "We have to focus on reducing malnutrition as a significant number of women are still suffering from malnutrition." 

Referring to different challenges for poverty alleviation, Chumki said nutritional status of under-five children should be improved to build a healthy nation through strengthening social safety-net programme.

Fortified rice kernels look, taste and cook like ordinary rice but are enhanced with six essential vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc. They are mixed with ordinary rice at a WHO ratio of 1:100 which means in 1kg ordinary rice 10 gram fortified rice is mixed.

The study determined that the prevalence of anaemia dropped by 4.8 per cent and zinc deficiency reduced by six per cent among women consuming fortified rice.

The research compared VGD women who received 30kg of fortified rice and an investment grant of BDT 15,000 ($185), with those who received 30kg of normal (non-fortified) rice per month.

This is the first time that the use of fortified rice in a government safety net programme has been tested in Bangladesh. 

Other speakers said low dietary diversity and scanty intake of nutrient-rich foods remain a challenge in Bangladesh, despite a significant decline in poverty in the recent years.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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