Economic and Nutritional Analyses Offer Substantial Synergies for Understanding Human Nutrition
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There is growing recognition that interventions designed to improve human nutritional status have, in addition to their intrinsic value, instrumental value in terms of economic outcomes. In many cases, productivity gains alone provide sufficient economic returns to justify investments using benefit and cost criteria. The often-held belief that nutrition programs are welfare interventions that divert resources that could be better used in other ways to raise national incomes is incorrect. Many investments in nutrition are in fact very good economic investments. This recognition has developed out of work that integrates insights from nutrition and economics. Further exploration of this interface is the focus of this article, which seeks: 1) to outline recent contributions that integrate research results from both economics and nutrition, particularly in the context of poor countries; and 2) to describe some areas in which enhanced collaboration is likely to have substantial payoffs in terms of both improved knowledge and more informed policy choices. Collaborative cross-disciplinary research on the topics described here is likely to have substantial payoffs, not only in terms of our understanding of nutritional and economic issues, but also in the improved design of programs and policies that seek to benefit nutritional-related outcomes.
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