What is Diet & Nutrition in Pakistan

Pakistan is a developing country located in South Asia with a population of over 220 million. The country has a rich culture, diverse food consumption patterns, and dietary habits that are influenced by various social, economic, and cultural factors. However, despite these factors, a significant proportion of the population has poor dietary habits that have contributed to the high prevalence of chronic diseases and other risk factors that affect the well-being and quality of life of the population.

Pakistan is a country with a population growth rate of 2.4%, and the majority of the population is under 30 years of age. With the current population of over 220 million people, it is essential to improve health through better nutrition. As this article discusses nutrition in Pakistan, nutrition jobs, and dietary habits, we will analyze and review the impact dietary habits have on health in the country.

Current Status of Nutrition in Pakistan

According to data collected by the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) in 2017-18, the population of Pakistan is rapidly growing, with over 212 million people residing in the country. The survey also showed that only 31.5% of adult women aged 15-49 years have a healthy diet. Additionally, food consumption in Pakistan is heavily dependent on grains, which comprise about 67% of the daily caloric intake, with little intake of fruits and vegetables. This dietary pattern is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Similarly, the prevalence of obesity in Pakistan is high, particularly among women. The survey data showed that 41% of adult women were overweight or obese, indicating a need for better nutrition and lifestyle habits. The prevalence of stunting among children under five years of age is also a major concern, with an estimated 38.4% of children affected by this condition. This is largely attributed to poor dietary intake, lack of education and awareness among caregivers, and poor access to health services.

Moreover, there is a lack of data and understanding regarding the nutritional status of infants and young children in Pakistan. The PDHS reported that only 38% of infants under six months of age were exclusively breastfed, which is essential for their growth and development. The prevalence of anemia in pregnant women is also high, which can lead to adverse health outcomes for both the mother and the child.

Dietary Patterns and Food Consumption

Dietary patterns in Pakistan vary depending on factors such as age, education, economic status, and cultural practices. However, the overall diet of the population is characterized by a high intake of refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats, and low consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This dietary pattern has been linked to a higher prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in adults.

The low intake of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin A has also contributed to a high prevalence of malnutrition, especially among children and women of reproductive age. Moreover, there is limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which has led to a high burden of waterborne diseases in the country.

Chronic Diseases and Risk Factors

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer are on the rise among adult women in Pakistan. These diseases are often linked to modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption. In addition, the prevalence of obesity and overweight is high, especially among adult women.

Other risk factors for chronic diseases in Pakistan include air pollution, stress, and lack of access to healthcare services. These factors often interact in complex ways, making it challenging to address the burden of chronic diseases in the country.

What is the Scope of Nutrition in Pakistan? | Jobs, Salary

Nutrition is a complex subject that involves social sciences, health, agriculture, and development. In South Asia, including Pakistan, nutrition remains a significant concern, with a high prevalence of malnutrition and chronic diseases. The government, along with international organizations, has been focusing on improving nutrition, and there have been significant improvements in recent years. However, the challenges remain, and there is a need for a comprehensive approach to improving the nutrition status of the population.

Dietary assessment

Assessing dietary habits is essential to develop a healthy diet and an effective nutrition plan. The dietary patterns of Pakistan’s population are diverse and vary across regions. The traditional diet includes a varied diet of grains, vegetables, legumes, and meat. However, the recent influx of fast food chains and processed foods has caused a shift in dietary patterns towards a more Westernized diet.

A study conducted by the Pakistan Medical Research Council found that the average caloric intake of Pakistani individuals is 2246 kcal/day, with a carbohydrate intake of 63.7%, fat intake of 20.5%, and protein intake of 15.8%. This data indicates a diet high in carbohydrates and low in protein, which can have adverse effects on health.

Lifestyle Assessment

Lifestyle assessment is also a crucial aspect of nutrition assessment. In Pakistan, physical inactivity is prevalent, with only 6% of the population engaging in physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Lifestyle assessment can help to identify the risk factors associated with unhealthy lifestyles and develop targeted interventions to promote a healthy diet and behavior.

Childhood Stunting

Childhood stunting is a significant public health issue in Pakistan. The prevalence of stunting is 45%, and it has not reduced significantly in the past decade. The high prevalence of childhood stunting is linked to poor dietary habits and lack of access to essential nutrients. Targeted interventions aimed at reducing childhood stunting are necessary to improve the overall health of the Pakistani population. As a result, more than half the children under five years of age are deficient in vitamin A, 40 percent are deficient in both zinc and vitamin D, and nearly 62 per cent are anaemic.

What are the jobs for nutrition graduates?

Pakistan has a vast scope for the field of nutrition, which includes a wide range of job opportunities for nutrition graduates. Nutritionists and dietitians, food scientists, food inspectors, public health nutritionists, and research scientists are some of the most common jobs in the field of nutrition.


Nutritionists and dietitians are healthcare professionals who specialize in the study of nutrition and its effects on the human body. They work with individuals and groups to develop and implement nutrition plans that promote good health. They also provide counseling on healthy eating habits and the prevention and management of chronic diseases. Nutritionists and dietitians work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and fitness centers.

Food Scientist

Food scientists study the chemical and physical properties of food and how it can be processed, preserved, and packaged. They work in a variety of industries, including food manufacturing, agriculture, and research. Food scientists are responsible for developing new food products, improving the nutritional content of existing products, and ensuring that food products are safe for human consumption.

Food Inspector

Food inspectors are regulatory professionals who inspect food products to ensure that they meet safety and quality standards. They work for government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to protect public health and safety. Food inspectors are responsible for ensuring that food products are labeled correctly, free from contamination, and comply with all regulations.

Public Health Nutritionist

Public health nutritionists work in public health settings to develop and implement nutrition programs that promote healthy eating and prevent chronic diseases. They work with communities, schools, and organizations to educate people about healthy eating habits and the importance of nutrition. Public health nutritionists also conduct research on the relationship between nutrition and chronic diseases.

Research Scientist

Research scientists conduct research on various aspects of nutrition, including the effects of different diets on health outcomes, the impact of nutrition on chronic diseases, and the development of new nutrition interventions and therapies. They work in academic institutions, research organizations, and government agencies. Research scientists are responsible for designing and conducting experiments, analyzing data, and publishing research findings.

Which universities are offering BS nutrition?

There are numerous jobs out there once you complete your degree. The government of Pakistan is also focusing on healthcare so the jobs in the healthcare department are also on the rise. A nutritionist can easily get a job in private healthcare or government healthcare. But there are other jobs as well,

  • University of Management and Technology, Lahore
  • University of Faisalabad, Faisalabad
  • Abbottabad University of Science and Technology, Abbottabad
  • College of Home Economics, Peshawar
  • University of South Asia, Lahore
  • Multan College of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Multan
  • University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
  • University of Punjab, Lahore
  • Hamdard University, Islamabad, and Karachi
  • Prime Institute of Health and Sciences, Islamabad
  • Iqra University, Karachi

In terms of salary, the average salary for a nutritionist in Pakistan is around PKR 50,000 per month. However, salaries can vary widely depending on the type of job, level of experience, and location. Nutritionists and dietitians working in private clinics and hospitals can earn higher salaries, while those working in government institutions may earn lower salaries but have better job security and benefits. Overall, the field of nutrition offers a wide range of job opportunities and competitive salaries in Pakistan.

Prevalence of Infants and Young Child Feeding Indicators

The prevalence of infants and related young child feeding indicators is an important aspect of nutrition in Pakistan. According to data from the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, only 38% of infants aged 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed, while 48% are breastfed and receive other liquids or foods.

Similarly, only 38% of children aged 6-23 months meet the minimum dietary diversity requirements, which means they consume foods from at least four out of seven food groups. Additionally, only 19% of children in this age group receive a minimum acceptable diet, which includes a minimum dietary diversity and minimum meal frequency.

Improving infant and young child feeding practices is crucial for reducing malnutrition and improving child health outcomes in Pakistan. The government and various non-governmental organizations have implemented programs and initiatives aimed at promoting optimal feeding practices and improving child nutrition.

Population Coverage of Key Supplementation and Fortification Interventions

Supplementation and fortification interventions play a crucial role in improving the nutrition status of the population in Pakistan. The coverage of these interventions is an important indicator of their effectiveness in reducing malnutrition and related health problems.

Supplementation interventions involve the provision of additional nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, to individuals who are at risk of deficiency. Fortification interventions involve the addition of nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, to staple foods such as flour, salt, and oil. Both interventions aim to improve the nutritional quality of the diet and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.

In Pakistan, the coverage of key supplementation and fortification interventions has been increasing over the years. For example, the coverage of vitamin A supplementation among children aged 6-59 months increased from 65% in 2011 to 77% in 2018. Similarly, the coverage of iron and folic acid supplementation among pregnant women increased from 23% in 2011 to 50% in 2018.

The coverage of fortification interventions has also been increasing in recent years. The mandatory fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid was introduced in 2011, and the coverage of fortified wheat flour increased from 1% in 2011 to 91% in 2018. The fortification of edible oil with vitamin A and D was also introduced in 2017, and the coverage of fortified oil increased from 1% in 2017 to 12% in 2018.

Despite these improvements, data show the coverage of some key supplementation and fortification interventions remains low. For example, the coverage of multiple micronutrient supplementation among pregnant women is only 2%, and the coverage of zinc supplementation for diarrhea management among children is only 9%.

Overall, increasing the coverage of key supplementation and fortification interventions is an important strategy for improving the nutritional status of the population in Pakistan and reducing the burden of malnutrition and related health problems.

Implemented National Food and NCD Policies

Any national government-implemented policy, strategy or plan relevant to improving nutrition and promoting healthy diet was considered for 194 countries. Legislation, codes, regulations, protocols and guidelines, as well as non-governmental policies, were excluded.

Pakistan has implemented national food and non-communicable disease (NCD) policies to improve the health and well-being of its population, particularly focusing on dietary habits and patterns. With population growth, better nutrition and healthy diets have become essential to prevent and control chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, which are major risk factors in the country.

The government has taken several initiatives to improve food consumption and promote healthy dietary patterns, particularly among women and children under five years of age. The policies are based on social sciences and nutrition research, and they aim to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for women in the country.

To achieve the objectives of the policies, the government is working on various strategies, including increasing awareness about healthy diets, promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and providing better access to nutritious foods. Similarly, focusing on the utilization of essential nutrients during pregnancy and infancy is also a priority.

The policies suggested by the government are complex, and their review and implementation requires the understanding and cooperation of various stakeholders, including adults, adolescents, households, and schools. Moreover, the role of the agriculture sector in promoting healthy diets and nutrition cannot be ignored.

To account for the effectiveness of the policies, data collection and analysis have become a crucial responsibility. The prevalence of overweight and obesity is a subject of major concern, and the government has developed methodologies to monitor their prevalence and prevent its occurrence. The policies also aim to create a better understanding of the relationship between diet and disease prevention among the population.

The implementation of the policies remains a challenging task, and several factors, such as economic and social barriers, may affect their effectiveness. However, the government is focusing on the development of forms of intervention to improve the utilization of healthy foods and promote better nutrition among the adult population.

In summary, the implemented national food and NCD policies and strategies in Pakistan are aimed at improving the dietary habit and patterns of the population to prevent chronic diseases and improve health outcomes. Their success relies on the understanding and cooperation of various stakeholders and the utilization of data to account for their effectiveness.

Inclusion of targets related to the global nutrition targets in national policies

The inclusion of targets related to global nutrition targets in national policies is essential for improving the nutrition status of a country’s population. These targets provide a framework for governments to develop policies and programs that focus on improving nutrition and reducing the burden of malnutrition, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight/obesity.

National policies that incorporate global nutrition targets can help guide the allocation of resources toward nutrition interventions that are proven to be effective. These interventions can range from promoting healthy dietary patterns and improving access to nutrient-rich foods to implementing food fortification and nutrition education programs.

Incorporating these targets into national policies can also help track progress toward meeting global nutrition goals and enable accountability for governments to fulfill their commitments. By prioritizing nutrition in national policies, countries can improve the health and well-being of their populations, reduce the economic burden of malnutrition, and contribute to the achievement of global development goals.

It is worth noting that while global nutrition targets provide a valuable framework, their implementation and success are ultimately dependent on a country’s political will, resource availability, and effective coordination between different sectors and stakeholders.

Pressure from the food system on environmental factors as a percentage of total pressure

This statement refers to the amount of pressure exerted by the food system on environmental factors, expressed as a percentage of the total pressure on the environment. It reflects the impact of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption on various environmental factors such as land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss.

For example, if the total pressure on the environment is 100 units and the pressure from the food system is 30 units, the percentage of pressure from the food system would be 30%. This metric can help to identify the extent to which the food system contributes to environmental degradation and inform policy and management decisions to reduce its impact.

Final Words

In conclusion, nutrition is a critical aspect of public health and development in Pakistan, with various challenges and opportunities. The country faces significant issues related to malnutrition and chronic diseases, but several policies and programs are in place to address these challenges.

Nutrition graduates have various job opportunities in the country, ranging from nutritionists and food scientists to research scientists and public health nutritionists. Additionally, there is a need for increased awareness and understanding of the importance of nutrition and healthy diets among the general population. Overall, there is a need for continued efforts and collaboration from various sectors to improve the nutritional status and well-being of the population in Pakistan.


What is the current status of malnutrition in Pakistan?

Malnutrition is a major concern in Pakistan, particularly among children under the age of five. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) 2017-18, around 36% of children under five years of age are stunted, 17% are wasted, and 28% are underweight. Moreover, 31% of women of reproductive age and 19% of men are underweight. This indicates a significant problem with access to nutritious food and proper nutrition in Pakistan.

What are some common dietary habits and patterns in Pakistan?

In Pakistan, traditional diets are largely based on rice, wheat, and lentils, along with vegetables and some animal products like meat and dairy. However, due to changing lifestyles, dietary patterns are shifting towards more processed and high-fat foods. This is particularly true in urban areas, where people have more access to processed foods and fast food restaurants. Additionally, the prevalence of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is also high, particularly in women and children.

What role does the government play in improving nutrition in Pakistan?

The government of Pakistan has taken various steps to improve nutrition in the country, including launching programs to improve maternal and child health, providing food and nutrition supplements to vulnerable populations, and implementing fortification programs to improve the nutrient content of staple foods. However, implementation and coverage of these programs remain a challenge, particularly in remote and underdeveloped areas.

How can individuals improve their diet and nutrition in Pakistan?

Individuals can improve their diet and nutrition by consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. Limiting the intake of processed and high-fat foods is also important. Additionally, it’s important to practice good hygiene and food safety practices to prevent foodborne illness. Lastly, ensuring adequate water intake and physical activity can also promote good health.

How can nutrition professionals contribute to improving nutrition in Pakistan?

Nutrition professionals can play a key role in improving nutrition in Pakistan by conducting research to better understand the prevalence and causes of malnutrition, developing and implementing nutrition programs, and providing nutrition education to individuals and communities. They can also work with the government and other organizations to advocate for policies that promote good nutrition and address underlying social and economic factors that contribute to malnutrition.

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