Malnutrition in Pakistan

August 28, 2017

Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet in which is either deficient in nutrients or are too much. Both cases may result in severe health problems. In this article, we will focus on the more common type of malnutrition that is found in Pakistan, namely undernutrition which, as the name suggests, results from a diet lacking in the necessary nutrients. Undernutrition, or undernourishment, is fairly common in third world and developing countries including Pakistan. Undernourishment is most often due to not enough high-quality food being available to eat. This is mostly due to high food prices and poverty.


Pakistan has an alarmingly high level of malnutrition; 24 percent of the population is undernourished. The most recent estimates by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) state that 37.5 million people in Pakistan are not receiving proper nourishment. The issue is complex and widespread, with deficiencies ranging from protein to iodine, along with other health problems due to insufficient intake of these essential nutrients. This has serious implications on the country’s economy as seen by the fact that just three types of malnutrition are responsible for 3 to 4 percent of GDP loss in Pakistan. Malnutrition in Pakistan is usually associated with poverty and the main causative factors include low consumption of food and foods with low nutritional value.


The most common kinds of malnutrition in Pakistan include iodine deficiency, iron deficiency resulting in anemia as well as protein deficiency which results in kwashiorkor.  The area most affected by malnutrition in Pakistan is Tharparkar where there is a severe lack of nutritious food. Starvation is extremely common in the rural areas of Pakistan, especially among children. Another major factor that accounts for malnutrition in Pakistan is the lack of awareness amongst the masses as well as unwillingness to follow nutritional guidelines.


Initiatives must be undertaken at a global level in order to find a long-term solution to this menace. The application of modern technology in the field of agriculture has great potential to combat under-nutrition. Not only will this result in a higher, better quality and more nutritious yield but it will also help the farmer earn greater profits. A global system must be formed for a fair distribution of the world’s crops to help fight this global menace. The government of Pakistan must introduce a proper management system to fight this problem.


 Over two billion people in the world suffer from various forms of malnutrition. It is also an underlying cause of the deaths of 2.6 million children each year, approximating to a third of child deaths globally.


According to Wikipedia, ‘Treating malnutrition, mostly through fortifying foods with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), improves lives at a lower cost and shorter time than other forms of aid, according to the World Bank. The Copenhagen Consensus, which look at a variety of development proposals, ranked micronutrient supplements as number one.’  The possible solution lies in the availability of essential nutrients in low-cost foods. Food companies can utilize their existing resource and development capabilities to develop low-to-moderate-cost nutritional foods. This issue must be dealt with urgently to protect our future generations.


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