Friday, July 13, 2007

The Price of a Healthy Diet

New research by Save the Children has revealed that in order to feed their family a healthy diet the world's poorest people are facing food costs that are more than three times their income.

The charity's latest report, Running on Empty , measured for the first time just how wide the gap is between the price of feeding a family enough nutritious food to be healthy and how much people in developing countries can hope to earn.

The research, carried out in four locations in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Tanzania, showed that between 15 %(in Ethiopia) and 79 %(in Bangladesh) of households simply couldn't afford to feed their children a healthy diet.

The estimated cost of a healthy diet for the poorest in the study locations in the four countries would be like an average household in the UK facing a weekly shopping bill of up to £1,700. The comparative cost of the diet compared with the equivalent average weekly earnings in the UK, was:
* Bangladesh £1,704 a week
* Ethiopia £677 a week
* Myanmar £584 a week
* Tanzania £593 a week
[The comparative cost of a healthy diet figure was found by comparing the price of buying enough food to feed a family in the research country a healthy diet with the average earnings of the poorest families. We multiplied the average weekly earnings of a household in the UK (£533 – DfWP 2006) by this ratio to create the equivalent figure in terms of the average UK family.]

"The poorest families simply do not have the money to afford to ever feed their children enough good food for them to grow up healthy and strong. Poverty has condemned them to a hand to mouth existence and their children to a future of stunting or early death. In 2000, world leaders promised to halve the proportion of hungry children in the world - but they are failing to deliver." - Save the Children

Chronic malnutrition is responsible for 5.6 million child deaths a year.

Millions more children around the world will be stunted because of this persistent hunger, which will affect their entire lives - they will be less well developed both mentally and physically, more prone to disease, and when they reach adulthood will be weaker and less able to do manual work.

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