ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Monday said that record number of people have become malnourished during the five long years of democratic rule in Pakistan.

The policies of the government have pushed up the cost of food to unprecedented levels leaving majority of the population food insecure, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that despite increase in the population the consumption of food is going down which is hurting the health of masses and bringing down productivity of the economy.  Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that around 50 per cent of the children in Pakistan and underweight while mothers are worst hit who are compromising on their health to feed their children.

An Oxfam report released in August 2011 said that every third Pakistani is facing food security issues while the situation in countries like Tanzania, Niger and Yemen is better, he said, adding, that the situation has deteriorated since then as majority have been spending more on food.

Many poor have withdrawn their children from schools while the tendency of marrying young daughters to free themselves from responsibility of providing food is increasing triggering other social and health issues, he added.

More and more people are taking fewer calories while the consumption of grain, around 62 per cent of an average Pakistan meal is decreasing, he said.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that intake of wheat, rice, sugar, pulses, vegetables, milk and edible oil is decreasing which is going completely unaddressed.

Majority of the people can only think of eating fish, meat, mutton and fruit considered an essential part of a balanced diet which is a grave threat for the future of the country, he said.

The under-five mortality rate, an important index of health and nutritional status of a country is alarmingly high in Pakistan by international standards.

He said the government that cannot feed hungry families and struggling communities has no right to remain in power.