A long-term study shows that better nutrition during the
first two years of life earned adult wages nearly 50 percent higher
than peers, according to media reports Saturday.
The study in Guatemala, published in the British medical journal
The Lancet, is the first to show direct evidence of the effects of
early childhood nutrition programs on adult economic productivity
"Our study is the first to find a direct link between nutrition
in childhood and economic productivity in later life," researcher
John Hoddinott from the Washington, DC-based International Food
Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said.
The study, led by John Hoddinott of the IFPRI, analysed data on
1,424 Guatemalans aged 25 to 42 who grew up in four villages in the
From 1969-1977, four rural communities in Guatemala participated
in a food supplementation study, in which children received one of
the two supplements fortified equally with micro nutrients. The
first supplement was high in protein and energy; the second
contained no protein and was low in energy.
During 2002 to 2004, researchers returned to Guatemala to
interview individuals who had participated in the nutrition
supplement program as children. They collected information about
all income-generating activities, including type of work; hours,
days, and months worked; and fringe benefits received.
They found that the adults who had eaten the food with high
protein and energy pulled in hourly wages 46 percent higher than
those who had been given the low-calorie alternative.
"This research demonstrates that improving early childhood
nutrition in developing countries is not only crucial for the
physical growth of children, but is also a wise, long-term economic
investment," said Reynaldo Martorell, who also was one of the
researchers who conducted the original study in Guatemala.
(Agencies via Xinhua February 2, 2008)