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The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 1: Entitlement and Well-being$
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Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286356.001.0001

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Nutrition and the Economics of Food: Implications of Some Recent Controversies *

Nutrition and the Economics of Food: Implications of Some Recent Controversies *

Chapter:
(p.247) 8 Nutrition and the Economics of Food: Implications of Some Recent Controversies*
Source:
The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 1: Entitlement and Well-being
Author(s):

S. R. Osmani

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286356.003.0008

This chapter argues that many of the policy debates arising from the recent nutrition controversies are ‘a classic case of much ado about nothing’. The difficulties associated with the traditional dietary approach to undernutrition-measurement using the average requirement as the cut-off norm are: intraindividual variation in requirement arising from adaptation in physical growth, interindividual variation in requirement due to genetic differences, and variation in requirement due to differing conditions of environmental hygiene, all leading to the misclassification of the undernourished. However, the appropriateness of an average norm as a method of measuring poverty depends on the conceptual foundations of poverty, opulence, or capability. For the capability approach, anthropometry has been an uncertain indicator due to lack of required information. This chapter suggests supplementary feeding programmes for wasted children and a simultaneous focus on entitlement to food and entitlement to hygiene as a policy priority.

Keywords:   nutritional standard, undernutrition, measurement of poverty, capability, food and nutrition policy

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