Around one in every 10 unmarried adolescents in the country is under weight, while another one-tenth is overweight.
Some 76-85% of adolescents consume adequate dietary diversity, which is more than four food groups out of five comprising fruits and vegetables, starchy food, dairy, protein and fat. Most adolescents (70-78%) also consume iron-enriched food but only around a quarter consume foods rich in vitamin A.
The first ever Bangladesh Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey 2019-2020 has come up with many intriguing findings like these.
The report of the nation-wide survey was launched on Thursday at the Grand Ball Room of InterContinental Dhaka.
The survey also reveals that 73% of unmarried female adolescents and 66% of unmarried male adolescents have expressed desire to know about puberty/physical changes.
While adolescent girls rely on books for getting information, the Internet is the most availed medium of getting information for male adolescents.
Nationally, a majority of female adolescents had no prior knowledge about menstruation before it occurred for the first time. Almost all (98%) of both ever married and unmarried adolescents reported using either disposable products or reusable materials cleaned with water and soap/detergent during menstruation. However, the hygienic menstrual practices are very low among both ever married (9%) and unmarried (12%) adolescents. Most notably, one in four ever married and unmarried in-school adolescents missed at least one day of school during their last menstruation.
The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 72,800 households, and 67,093 households (98%) were successfully interviewed.
Some 4,926 ever married females (97% response rate), 7,800 unmarried females (94% response rate), and 5,523 unmarried male (85% response rate) adolescents were interviewed. Data collection started on 25 July 2019 and was completed on 10 January 2020.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said in spite of making strides in different areas of health services, early marriage and teen-pregnancy rates are still high in the country.
"It is imperative to prevent early marriage and provide meaningful sexual and reproductive health education and services starting from adolescence to uphold the progress we are making in the health sector," he stated.
The survey reveals among ever-married adolescents, 97% are currently married, while 3% of adolescents aged 15-19 years are separated, divorced, or widowed. Some 17% of currently married girls have been married for four years or more.
Regarding spousal age difference, 30% of female adolescents have an age difference of 10 or more years with their husband. The highest proportion of female adolescents with a spousal age difference of 10 years or more is among those in the highest wealth quintile (45%), the survey finds.
Over one-third (34%) of ever married women and one-fifth (18%) of unmarried women perceive that a husband has the right to beat his wife when she does not listen to him.
In the case of sexual harassment, it is very shocking that 88% unmarried female adolescents have experienced sexual harassment while commuting on the road and 19% experienced this at schools.
The survey was led by the National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT) with technical assistance from Research for Decision Makers (RDM) project of icddr,b and Data for Impact (D4I) of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The survey was funded by the Bangladesh government, USAID/Bangladesh and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK government (formerly known as DFID).