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HEALTH POLICY AND PLANNING. 1988 Dec; 3(4):325-8.Because Bangladesh has suffered poverty, frequent natural disasters, and rapid population growth, there has been a gradual decline in nutrient intake per individual. Traditional dietary practices have undergone significant changes since 1937, which has contributed to the decline. In 1937, rice was the chief component of the diet at the village level, with protein supplied by lentils, peas, Bengal, green, black and cow gram, and kheshari. But, the daily nutrient intake of poor people was better than that of today. Massive starvation during the famine in 1943 caused a change in dietary practices. People began to eat green leaves, roots, tubers, and many unfamiliar foods because of the scarcity of cereal foods and the sharp increase in the price of rice. In 1970, a cyclone and a flood destroyed crops and people lived on food aid, eating grain, fish protein and milk powder. The war of independence in 1971 caused widespread destitution and 2 million people died. In the refugee camps in India, children ate unfamiliar foods and gradually accustomed themselves to using wheat as their staple diet. In 1974 and 1977, crop failure and another flood caused more changes in dietary pattern. Although nutrition education programs have begun, they have not been of benefit to the rural population. The pattern of nutrient intake has revealed weight faltering in females and levels are below the FAO recommendations for daily energy allowances. Nutrition survey reports from 1975 and 1982 show a gradual deterioration in nutritional status based on weight and height changes for poor children in rural areas. The decline is most evident in the 5-14 year age group, with an accompanying increase in nutrition-related morbidity. Food production, availability, and economic constraints are the most important factors associated with the reduction in nutrient intake. Population density has also played a role in the reduction.