Effect of a nutrition intervention during early childhood on economic productivity in Guatemalan adults

Effect of a nutrition intervention during early childhood on economic productivity in Guatemalan adults

Nutrition supplements in early childhood linked to future economic productivity: evidence from Guatemala

This research article from The Lancet examines the impact of a nutrition intervention in early childhood on adult economic productivity and income.Between 1969 and 1977 in Guatemala, children between 0 and 7 years of age in two villages were randomly assigned a nutritious supplement called atole (a drink containing vegetable protein, dry skimmed milk and sugar) while those in two other villages received a less nutritious one (fresco, a drink containing sugar but no protein).Twenty-five years later, the researchers analysed economic data for those involved in the intervention, now aged between 25 and 42 years.Findings showed that atole supplementation from 0 to 3 years of age, though not from 3 to 6 years, was associated with higher hourly wages.However, this was only the case for men, not women.For exposure to atole from 0 to 2 years, the increase was US$0·67 per hour, a 46 per cent increase in average wages.

The authors conclude that improving nutrition in early childhood led to substantial increases in wage rates among the men studied. They suggest that investments in early childhood nutrition can be long-term drivers of economic growth, and call for further research in other settings.

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