Home Month Policy Forum | Faculty Research Seminar | Alok Bhargava

Policy Forum | Faculty Research Seminar | Alok Bhargava

Diet quality, child health and food policies in developing countries

While the importance of diet quality for improving child health is widely recognized, the roles of environmental factors and absorption of nutrients for children’s physical growth and morbidity have not been adequately integrated into a policy framework. Moreover, nutrient intakes gradually affect child health so that it is helpful to use alternative tools for evaluation of short-term interventions versus long-term food policies. This article emphasizes the role of diet quality reflected in the intakes of nutrients such as protein, calcium, and iron for children’s physical growth; vitamins A and C are important for reducing morbidity that can hamper growth. Children’s growth and morbidity affect their cognitive development that is critical for future supply of skilled labor and for economic growth. Evidence on these issues from countries such as Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Philippines and Tanzania is discussed. The supply of nutritious and animal foods is appraised from the viewpoint of improving diet quality. It is suggested that Pigouvian type taxes on unhealthy processed foods consumed by the affluent in developing countries can raise revenues for subsidizing livestock production for improving diets of the poor.

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