Less than 2 percent of households worry about food

Food: Household food insecurity in the country has been reduced by five-folds in the last five years, according to the national nutrition survey conducted by the public health department.

Nationally, 2.2 percent of households reported that they had faced difficulties in providing food in contrast to 10.8 percent of households which reported facing such difficulties in the Bhutan Multiple Indicator Survey 2010.

Among the households that reported facing difficulties in food provisioning, 1.6 percent reported worrying about food and 1.2 percent reported running out of food in the household. Less than one percent of households had skipped meals due to food constraint and an equal number of households reported eating only rice.

However, a vast majority (92 percent) of households nationally had an acceptable food consumption score (FCS). FCS is a composite score based on dietary diversity, food frequency and relative nutritional importance of different food groups developed by the World Food Programme.

But findings on dietary diversity reveals that starchy staples like rice, wheat and potatoes were most consumed with the average household eating these foods seven days a week.

Fats and oils were the second most frequently consumed food with households eating the two 6.7 days a week. Tea, coffee and other miscellaneous foods are being consumed 5.8 days a week.

The most infrequently consumed food consists of organ meat, fish and fleshy foods.

Nutrient rich foods like fruits, vegetable, eggs, legumes and nuts were seen more frequently consumed by the wealthy. However, the households in the richer wealth quintile also consume more fats and sugar compared with the poorer wealth quintile.

“The lower dietary diversity in poorer households is likely to have an impact on the nutritional status and growth outcomes for members of these households, including young children,” the survey report states.

According to the WFP FCS index, eight percent of households in Bhutan had ‘poor’ or ‘borderline’ FCS. Households with poor FCS tend to consume only staples rice and vegetables while those with borderline FCS incorporate some amount of meat and other food sources into their diet.

Tshering Dorji