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Policy Lessons About Nutrition

  • May 2017
2014 Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images, courtesy of the Hewlett Foundation
Helping households purchase nutritious food can:
  • Reduce child stunting and wasting.
  • Improve nutritional and health status.
  • Enhance labor force participation.

What Is the Issue?
Nutritional status relies on food accessibility and affordability. For example, sudden increases in food prices are associated with increases in malnutrition. Poverty is connected to poorer nutritional status, malnutrition, stunting, and wasting. Nutritional status may also differ by gender in contexts where caregivers may invest more in boys than girls.

Why Does It Matter?
The nutritional status of women and children has important implications for health and human capital. The health of women affects children in utero and throughout their lifetimes, while health during childhood influences health and economic outcomes later in life. For policymakers, implementing policies and programs that help households afford and access nutritious food can result in societal gains through better population health status and greater economic productivity.

What Can Be Done?
Supplementing nutrition with additional food or dietary supplements can positively influence health outcomes. Additionally, cash transfers and increased affordability of food can help people have better nutrition and improve health status for both women and children.

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