Combating nutrient deficiency in Pakistan

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Authors: Amna Ejaz, Haseeb Ali, Mubarik Ali and Umar Farooq
Date: Winter 2016
From: Pakistan Development Review(Vol. 55, Issue 4)
Publisher: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics
Document Type: Report
Length: 5,135 words

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To quantify the micronutrient deficiencies and their overtime trends, food quantities reported to be consumed in HIES surveys data during 1991-92 and 2011-12 are converted into major and micronutrients using the FAO Food Composition Table for Pakistan. To see the impact of different price and income support policies on micronutrient consumption, nutrient demand elasticities are estimated for 2011-12 for carbohydrates (energy), protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin Bi, vitamin B2, and Niacin. The Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS) is applied to estimate the demand elasticities of the eight food groups which are then converted into nutrient demand elasticities using the transformation of Hunag (1996). On average, per capita consumptions of almost all micronutrients are deficient compared to their respective recommended levels. Our analysis suggest that income support to the poor in Pakistan through programmes like BISP would have been much more effective to eradicate nutrient deficiency, if deficient nutrient(s) are targeted and support is provided to those foods having highest demand elasticity for that nutrient. For example, the promotion of wheat and other cereals are important to eradicate energy deficiency, and promotion of vegetables, fruits, and milk are particularly important in eradicating vitamin A, C and iron deficiencies. These commodities are also high value crops for farmers, thus the price support in these crops will also impact micronutrient consumption through income effect.


Estimates of micronutrient deficiencies are alarmingly high in Pakistan, especially among children and women. According to the National Nutritional Survey of Pakistan conducted in 2011-12, two out of every (44 percent) children under five years are stunted, 15 percent have wasting and 32 percent are have underweight problem, while 15 percent of women in the productive age have chronic energy deficiency (low BMls) all suggesting a serious malnutrition problem among women and children. Micronutrient deficiencies are also very serious: 27 percent women and 44 percent children are iron deficient; 68 percent of women and 54 percent of children under the age 5 are quoted as Vitamin A deficient; over 58 percent of women have calcium deficiency, and 69 percent are vitamin D deficient. Despite an increase in food availability, most of the micronutrient deficiency measures have deteriorated overtime since the last survey was conducted in 2011 [NNT (2011)]. (1)

Promotion of appropriate food can be an important strategy to overcome targeted nutrient deficiencies. For this purpose, policy makers should know what commodity can be the most effective with a given incentive, in eradicating a particular nutrient deficiency in the population. Although, food composition table does provide nutrient density of various nutrients in different commodities consumed, however, it does not incorporate the income or price response of the commodity. A commodity may be densed in a nutrient but it may not response to the policy incentive thus can play a little role to improve its efficiency. This paper estimates the nutrient demand elasticities at the food group level which indicate the change in the consumption of various nutrients with a given change in price or income support...

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Source Citation
Ejaz, Amna, et al. "Combating nutrient deficiency in Pakistan." Pakistan Development Review, vol. 55, no. 4, winter 2016, pp. 921+. Accessed 22 Sept. 2023.

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