Food Prices and Poverty Negatively Affect Micronutrient Intakes in Guatemala
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Limited empirical evidence exists for how economic conditions affect micronutrient nutrition. We hypothesized that increasing poverty and rising food prices would reduce consumption of high-quality "luxury" foods, leading to an increased probability of inadequacy for several nutrients. The 2006 Guatemala National Living Conditions Survey was analyzed. First, energy and nutrient intakes and adequacy levels were calculated. Second, the income-nutrient relationships were investigated by assessing disparities in intakes, determining income-nutrient elasticities, and modeling nutrient intakes by reductions in income. Third, the food price-nutrient relationships were explored through determination of price-nutrient elasticities and modeling 2 price scenarios: an increase in food prices similar in magnitude to the food price crisis of 2007 2008 and a standardized 10% increase across all food groups. Disparities in nutrient intakes were greatest for vitamin B-12 (0.38 concentration index) and vitamin A (0.30 concentration index); these nutrients were highly and positively correlated with income (r = 0.22-0.54; P < 0.05). Although the baseline probability of inadequacy was highest for vitamin B-12 (83%), zinc showed the greatest increase in probability of inadequacy as income was reduced, followed by folate and vitamin A. With rising food prices, zinc intake was most acutely affected under both scenarios (P < 0.05) and folate intake in the poorest quintile (+7 percentage points) under the 10% scenario. Price-nutrient elasticities were highest for vitamin B-12 and the meat, poultry, and fish group (-0.503) and for folate and the legumes group (-0.343). The economic factors of food prices and income differentially influenced micronutrient intakes in Guatemala, notably zinc and folate intakes. J. Nutr. 142: 1568-1576, 2012.
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