Over the last decade, the proportion of women with low body mass index, an indicator of undernutrition, has decreased markedly from 34 to 19 per cent.
However, the proportion of overweight women increased alarmingly from 9 to 24 per cent over the same period.
Thus, while undernutrition among women of childbearing age has declined, overall malnutrition status—with the rise of overweight and obesity—has remained the same for the women.
Bangladesh is facing a ‘double burden’ of malnutrition among women. Adolescent nutrition also remains a major issue. Child marriage is extremely common and undermines the nourishment needs of adolescent girls. Around 29 per cent of girls are malnourished. This is particularly significant given adolescent birth rate in Bangladesh is among the highest in the world.
Early pregnancy raises the risk of morbidity and mortality of both mother and newborn. Babies born to adolescent mothers often have low birth weight, which begins a cycle of poor nutritional outcomes.
Adolescents aged 15 between 19 are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth compared to women older than age 20, according to global data. Adolescents younger than age 15 are 5 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth.
Adolescent girls in Bangladesh also exhibit high-levels of micronutrient deficiencies and on an average half of all women is effected by anaemia, which is the absence of healthy red blood cells for carrying oxygen.