Education and Nutrition

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Helpdesk Query:

What is the evidence on educational outcomes from nutrition?  What is the evidence on nutritional outcomes from education?


This paper provides an overview of the evidence on educational outcomes from nutrition and nutritional outcomes from education.  It includes the following sections: effects of intra-uterine growth retardation; low birth-weight, effects of poor infant nutrition (low weight, stunting, breastfeeding), iron deficiency anaemia in school age children, parental education and school health and feeding

Some key facts on the impact of nutrition on education are:

Growth Retardation Leads to Reduction in Mental Capacity and Adverse School Performance
Iodine Deficiency Leads to Lower IQ, Reduced Mental Capacity and Cognitive Function in School Children
Low Birth Weight Leads to Poor Cognitive Performance and Poor Attention Span in School
Increased Height and Birth Weight Leads to Greater Learning Capacity and Income
Iron Deficiency Anaemia Leads to Reduction in Cognitive Ability and School Performance
No Breakfast + Malnourished Background Leads to Poor School Performance
Undernourished Children Leads to Later Enrolment, Compounding Intellectual Impairment

How can these problems be resolved?
The first three years of life, plus life in the womb, are the most important periods in terms of mental, physical, and emotional development. It is during these critical windows of time that basic human capital is formed. Most growth failure occurs between 6 months and 24 months of age. Early damage due to anaemia, iodine deficiency, and chronic malnutrition can only partially be reversed in later life. Preventive programmes, therefore, must be accorded high priority.

Some key facts on the impact of education on nutrition are:

Better Educated Parents Leads to Decrease in Child Stunting
School Feeding Programmes Leads to Increased Test Scores, Enrolment, Attendance, Improved Nutrition and Increased BMI
Fathers’ Education Leads to Lower Risk of Child Under 5 Being Underweight
Mothers’ Education Leads to Lower Risk of Child Under 5 Being Stunted, Wasted and Underweight


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