Fish chutney to solve malnutrition, stunting

Chutney and flour made of small fish could be the simple solution to chronic malnutrition and stunting in the women and children of Bangladesh.

An Australian PhD student has worked with researchers at the WorldFish Research Centre in Bangladesh.

fish chutnyJessica Bogard, from the University of Queensland said the small fish solution could be made anywhere in the world, using local spices.

“Bangladesh suffers from, what we call in nutrition, the double or even triple burden of malnutrition,” said Ms Bogard.

“Globally we have 800 million who are hungry, two billion people who are overweight or obese, and around two billion people who are deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.

“This micronutrient deficiency is silent and often goes unnoticed, particularly in children.

“It can lead to stunted growth, which can permanently reduce their ability to learn, to gain employment, and lead productive lives.

“In Bangladesh a staggering 41 per cent of children are stunted.”

If children are given good nutrition for the first 1,000 days of life until they turn two, they can avoid becoming stunted.

“[The chutney and flour is] made from dried small fish, rich in protein, iron, zinc, and calcium, ground up into a paste, fried in oil to give essential oils, and salt and spices are added for flavour and as a preservative,” Ms Bogard said.

“It’s a nutrient dense condiment for curries.

“The fish are small, less than 10 centimetres long, and people eat the whole fish.

“They get calcium from the bones, vitamin A from the eyes of the fish, and iron and zinc from the viscera and other parts.”

Small fish are found in inland waterways and WorldFish is combining these fish with the aquaculture, that is being developed across Bangladesh.

“Dressed up with different spices, this fish chutney recipe could be developed around the world, suitable to taste for the world’s poorest and most malnourished women and children,” Ms Bogard said.

Reducing maternal mortality by 75 per cent over 15 years was a key target for the world’s Millennium Development Goals, which conclude this year 2015.

While that has not quite been achieved, they will be replaced next month (October) by new Sustainable Development Goals.