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704. Food Price Hikes and Child Malnutrition in Low and Middle Income Countries

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Food prices are soaring around the world. Many of you may have experienced it firsthand not only from news reports but also in your daily lives.

Today, we would like to introduce a discussion paper published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last December. The report stated that the 21st century has been characterized by the increased volatility in food prices, with global price hikes in 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2021-22.

Until now, the impact of rising food prices on the risk of child malnutrition has not been well understood. Therefore, this study analyzed the potential impact of rising food prices on wasting (too underweight for height; acute malnutrition) and stunting (too short for age; chronic malnutrition) among 1.27 million pre-school children from 44 low and middle income countries.

The analysis showed that on average, a 5% increase in the real price of food increases the risk of wasting by 9% and the risk of severe stunting by 14%. These risks apply both to infants, which would suggest that they are affected prenatally, and to older children, who experience a decline in diet quality as a result of food price hikes. Boys and children from poor, landless homes in rural areas are more severely affected. Food price increases during pregnancy and the first 12 months after birth also increase the risk of stunting for children between the ages of 2 and 5.

Thus, rising food prices also affect the nutritional status of young children. This evidence shows that interventions to prevent food price spikes and reduce their impact on vulnerable children and their mothers are reasonable.

Headey, Derek D.; Ruel, Marie T. 2022. Food inflation and child undernutrition in low and middle income countries. IFPRI Discussion Paper 2146. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). https://doi.org/10.2499/p15738coll2.136457

Contributor: SHIRATORI Sakiko (Information and Public Relations Office)

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