Diet-related Policy Options in Pakistan to Promote the Intake of Healthy Foods

Unhealthy diets are a major risk factor related to the rapid rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries like Pakistan. Fruit and vegetables are important parts of a healthy diet, as are other high-fibre foods.

According to the published literature, eating few fruits and vegetables causes about 31% of heart disease and 11% of strokes worldwide. As people move from rural to urban jobs and living spaces, those who used to produce their own food now rely almost completely on purchased food. This has changed people's access to both healthy and unhealthy foods.

Unhealthy eating patterns are more common in low-income settings and among marginalized women and children. In Pakistan, high food prices have led to ill effects on health and nutrition in various ways:

  • poorer food consumption causes malnutrition, which in turn raises the likelihood of disease and even death
  • an increased workload (to increase income) can have a negative impact on people's eating practices and create both poorer health and nutrition
  • lower spending on health care leads to poorer treatment of disease and higher death rates.

Previous research in Pakistan has highlighted the lack of access to healthy foods among low- and middle-income groups. The reasons include the high price of healthy foods, lack of awareness about the relationship between eating unhealthy foods and NCDs, and lack of government policies to support the availability of healthy foods to low- and middle-income groups.

This study aims to determine the scope of the problem and to consult with stakeholders from various sectors. Outcomes will include the development of additions and amendments to the country's National Action Plan on NCDs. As well, the researchers plan to produce policy briefs that address the need to reduce the consumption of unhealthy food in Pakistan.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

End Date

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


9 months

IDRC Officer

Geneau, Robert

Total funding

CA$ 27,000


Pakistan, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Shayan Mustafa


Center for Policy, Research and Sustainable Development (CPRSD) Trust

Institution Country


Institution Website