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An Economic Analysis of the Diet, Growth, and Health of Young Children in the United States

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  • Dov Chernichovsky
  • Douglas Coate

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent to which family income and education are obstacles to the provision of adequate diets for young children in the United States. An examination of the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveals the following: 1. Average nutrient intakes of young children are well above recommended dietary standards, with the exception of iron. 2. Average nutrient intakes for children in households of lower economic status are very similar to intakes of children in households of higher economic status. Rates of children's growth are also similar in these households. 3. Family income and education of the household head have statistically significant but very small positive effects on the nutrient intake levels of young children. 4. There are substantial effects of protein intakes on children's height and head growth, even though protein is consumed in excess of dietary standards. This finding and the apparent correlation between children's growth and their intellectual development brings to question the adequacy of present protein standards. Could American mothers, who provide very high protein diets for their children in households at all levels of socioeconomic status know more about what constitutes an adequate diet for their children than the experts do?

Suggested Citation

  • Dov Chernichovsky & Douglas Coate, 1979. "An Economic Analysis of the Diet, Growth, and Health of Young Children in the United States," NBER Working Papers 0416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0416
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    1. Dov Chernichovsky & Douglas Coate, 1977. "The Choice of Diet for Young Children and Its Relation to Children's Growth," NBER Working Papers 0219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Robert T. Michael, 1972. "The Effect of Education on Efficiency in Consumption," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number mich72-1.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Paul Schultz, T., 1987. "Fertility and investments in human capital : Estimates of the consequence of imperfect fertility control in Malaysia," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 163-184.
    2. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1982. "The Behavior of Mothers as Inputs to Child Health: The Determinants of Birth Weight, Gestation, and Rate of Fetal Growth," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 53-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chernichovsky, Dov*Zangwill, Linda, 1988. "Microeconomic theory of the household and nutrition programs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 82, The World Bank.
    4. Komlos, John & Meermann, Lukas, 2004. "The Introduction of Anthropometrics into Development and Labor Economics," Discussion Papers in Economics 381, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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