The use of economics in the evaluation of nutritional problems and policy
Nutrition has recently assumed a far greater importance as individuals are increasingly concerned with what they eat. Environmental and global issues has stimulated a growing awareness about the effect of chemicals and intensive farming methods while on an individual level, growing affluence has meant that price is no longer of utmost importance to many consumers who concentrate instead on the variety and dietary quality of food. At the same time the poor, both in the industrialised economies and in LDCs, continue to find it difficult to maintain basic nutritional levels. This is despite the expectation that agricultural technology could relieve such problems. There are therefore important nutritional issues to be addressed both of quality and quantity and how these affect health status, productive capacity and individual welfare. Economists have contributed to this evaluation by analysing nutritional problems of both quantity and quality. A framework within which nutrition policy is evaluated can be constructed from economic theory that considers the possible justifications for intervening in markets and the methods of undertaking such action. The aims of this review are: firstly, to show how economics has contributed to the study of nutrition; secondly, to examine how an economic framework can be used to analyse the efficacy and desirability of policy intervention; and finally to look at potential areas for further study.
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