Objective: To estimate the average annual rates of reduction of stunting, underweight and wasting for the period 1996 to 2011, and to evaluate whether Bangladesh will be expected to achieve the target of Millennium Development Goal 1C of reducing the prevalence of underweight by half by 2015.
Design: We used five nationwide, cross-sectional, Demographic and Health Survey data sets to estimate prevalence of undernutrition defined by stunting, underweight and wasting among children under 5 years of age using the WHO child growth standards. We then computed the average annual rates of reduction of prevalence of undernutrition using the formula derived by UNICEF. Finally, we projected the prevalence of undernutrition for the year 2015 using the estimated average annual rates of reduction.
Setting: Nationwide covering Bangladesh.
Subjects: Children under 5 years of age (n 28 941).
Results: The prevalence of stunting decreased by 18·8 % (from 60·0 % to 41·2 %), underweight by 16·0 % (from 52·2 % to 36·2 %) and wasting by 5·1 % (from 20·6 % to 15·5 %) during 1996 to 2011. The overall average annual rates of reduction were 2·84 %, 2·69 % and 2·47 %, respectively, for stunting, underweight and wasting. We forecast that in 2015, the prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting will be 36·7 %, 32·5 % and 14·0 %, respectively, at the national level. The prevalence of undernutrition is likely to remain high in rural areas, in the Sylhet division and in the poorest wealth quintile.
Conclusions: Bangladesh is likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 1C target of reducing the prevalence of underweight by half by 2015. However, it is falling behind in reducing stunting and further investment is needed to reduce individual, household and environmental determinants of stunting in Bangladesh.