Press Release

2 in 3 children under five in Bangladesh face child food poverty - UNICEF

09 June 2024

New global report from UNICEF reveals alarming findings, calling for urgent efforts to improve children’s access to diverse and nutritious foods in Bangladesh and around the world. 


DHAKA, 6 June 2024 – Two in every three children under five in Bangladesh are living in child food poverty, according to UNICEF’s new report Child Food Poverty: Nutrition Deprivation in Early Childhood. This means that about 10 million Bangladeshi children consume fewer than the minimum five food groups recommended by UNICEF and WHO for adequate nutrition.  

Child food poverty detrimentally impacts all children, but its effects are especially profound during early childhood. Alarmingly, one in five children under five in Bangladesh lives in severe child food poverty, surviving on just one or two food groups a day. Children without an adequately diverse diet are up to 50 per cent more likely to experience wasting, a severe form of malnutrition.   

Bangladesh is among the 20 countries that account for almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of the total number of children experiencing severe child food poverty globally. The consequences of an insufficient diet can last a lifetime: children deprived of good nutrition in early childhood tend to do less well in school, earn less in adulthood, and remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation. 

“Good nutrition is the bedrock of children’s survival, growth, and development.  Families play a critical role in ensuring that children are fed nutritious foods, but they cannot do it alone. They must be supported through a systematic approach – leveraging the potential of food, health and social protection systems – and driven by decisive political will and targeted investment. By transforming food systems in Bangladesh to make diverse and healthy foods accessible and affordable, we can help ensure that every child has a strong start for a powerful beginning," stated Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. 

Factors fueling the child food poverty crisis in Bangladesh include families’ inability to afford nutritious foods; parents’ lack of awareness of positive child feeding habits; the rampant marketing and consumption of nutrient-poor ultra-processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages; and increased climate-related disasters that affect the food system. Moreover, climate change-related disasters, also reduce the availability of fresh foods, lower agricultural productivity, and drive food prices to record-high levels. 

To end child food poverty and malnutrition, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to deliver essential nutrition services. UNICEF also supports community health and nutrition workers to counsel parents and families on child feeding and care practices and activate social protection systems to address poverty through social transfers, including cash and food assistance.  

UNICEF calls on the Government of Bangladesh, civil society, donors, the private sector, and other stakeholders to urgently: 

  • Leverage health systems to deliver essential nutrition services to prevent and treat child malnutrition  
  • Invest in building the capacity of community health and nutrition workers, especially in remote and underserved areas, to provide timely and high-quality counselling to parents and caregivers on recommended child feeding practices and care  
  • Ensure that policy and regulatory frameworks are established across the food, health and social protection systems, while strengthening efforts to address the drivers of child food poverty 
  • Protect all children from unhealthy food environments, including through unregulated marketing of ultra-processed foods and beverages. 



Notes for editors: 

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Download the full report 

Child food poverty is measured using the UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) dietary diversity score. Categories of child food poverty  

If children are fed: 
0–2 food groups/day, they are living in severe child food poverty, 

3–4 food groups/day, they are living in moderate child food poverty, 

5 or more food groups/day, they are not living in child food poverty. 



For more information please contact: 


Farjana Sultana, Communication Officer, UNICEF Bangladesh,

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United Nations Children’s Fund

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