Nutrition in Pakistan
An overview of cuisine and nutrition in Pakistan
Pakistani cuisine is a cultural experience that can be enjoyed in many places of the world. Pakistan in itself can be viewed as a country with vast regional traditions within South Asia. The cuisine is an artistic amazement as its food is very diverse. Varying from region to region, certain dishes are spicy or mild and highly seasoned and well indulged. While a majority of the cuisine is aromatic, many spices such as cloves, nutmeg, brown and green cardamom are prevalent in each dish. Using spices to capture the person eating, as well as cooking with different techniques, demonstrates how amazing Pakistani culture truly is. Pakistan has come a long way within the last 10 years, as it has progressed immensely in terms of nutrition, culture, and different dynamics of the country. In consequence, based on the diversification, there has been an abrupt fluctuation with food scarcity. As a destitute nation, Pakistan is among a majority of countries in which malnutrition is more prevalent than ever.
In Pakistan, food scarcity is a vast issue that is a growing problem within the country. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, The State of Food Insecurity 2001, “Food security [is] a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and health life”. While the cuisine features many interesting and delicious dishes, at a national level, almost 40% of the population is underweight. There is a significant issue with malnutrition due to the poverty level that has affected the countries nutrition. Being healthy and fit comes at a cost in a country that is unable to provide for its hole population, due to a lack of a booming economy, and resources.
However, according to the National Health Service, Pakistan has had an increase in per capita food availability, yet the issue of malnutrition has not yet improved. The nutritional status depends on the availability of food and a balanced diet, however dietary habits are vastly abysmal as most members of the population are unable to nourish their bodies as much as they should. In order to be properly nourished, each individual would have to ration their food, to support themselves as well as their families do to the economic status of Pakistan.
Generally, a well-balanced diet is derived from 10-15% of protein, 20-30% of carbohydrates and fat. Evidently, the national diet in Pakistan is surely below the adequate amount an individual is meant to consume. There is a prevalent problem in which Pakistani people are not eating a balanced diet, thus the sufficient amount of calories due to poverty within the country. There are many aspects of the cuisine that are apart of Pakistani culture. Meat plays a large role in many Southern Asian cuisines. Meat dishes such as bovine, ovine, poultry and sea foods are very rampant in Pakistani food culture. Dishes like Maash pulao, a sweet and sour dish with apricots, Murgh pulao, Yakhni pulao and Matar pulao are all very commonly consumed. In addition, to exquisite food, Pakistan also has many scrumptious desserts, such as Peshawari ice cream, zarda, kheer and others. Each indulgence is eaten after main course. Although Pakistan has luscious food and deserts, there is still a shortage of food to provide to the people.
While there is hardship of having enough food to go around, Pakistani cuisine follows the Islamic law that states that all food and drink needs to be Halal and acceptable to consume. Being a Muslim nation, and abiding the law of eating Halal adds to the imbalance of the population as most foods are not consumable.
Different districts of Pakistan have different variations of nutrition. Punjab, the biggest province in Pakistan, has a quite low amount of food security at about 40.5%. Whereas 59.5% are insecure without hunger. The poorest and most food deprived provide is Sindh, where only 28% of the population is food secure. This wide spread of food insecurity has drastically brought down the economy. “With a population of more than 180 million people, Pakistan is at present the sixth largest country in the world and is projected to be the fourth largest by 2050, according to estimates by the UN. Despite a reported annual growth of 4.4% in gross domestic product, 13% of the population lives under the poverty line of US $1.25 per day."
The majority of the population is struggling to nourish themselves as the economy is also suffering.
While nutrition in Pakistan has fluctuated throughout the years, in order to truly understand the divide of income and food security, the individual needs to look at how nutrition has been distributed throughout the country. Even in the largest city, nutrition and food security are still scarce and unavailable as it should be. Pakistan has many appealing dishes and an interesting culture, however the main issue is how to fully insure that each individual will have the opportunity to eat a well-balanced diet. Nutrition in a country such a Pakistan should not be overlooked as Pakistan is continuing to grow in population and should become more and more populated as the years go by.