Micronutrient deficiencies and gender: Social and economic costs

UNICEF Nutrition Section & Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.77). 06/2005; 81(5):1198S-1205S.
Source: PubMed


Vitamin and mineral deficiencies adversely affect a third of the world's people. Consequently, a series of global goals and a serious amount of donor and national resources have been directed at such micronutrient deficiencies. Drawing on the extensive experience of the authors in a variety of institutional settings, the article used a computer search of the published scientific literature of the topic, supplemented by reports and published and unpublished work from the various agencies. In examining the effect of sex on the economic and social costs of micronutrient deficiencies, the paper found that: (1) micronutrient deficiencies affect global health outcomes; (2) micronutrient deficiencies incur substantial economic costs; (3) health and nutrition outcomes are affected by sex; (4) micronutrient deficiencies are affected by sex, but this is often culturally specific; and finally, (5) the social and economic costs of micronutrient deficiencies, with particular reference to women and female adolescents and children, are likely to be considerable but are not well quantified. Given the potential impact on reducing infant and child mortality, reducing maternal mortality, and enhancing neuro-intellectual development and growth, the right of women and children to adequate food and nutrition should more explicitly reflect their special requirements in terms of micronutrients. The positive impact of alleviating micronutrient malnutrition on physical activity, education and productivity, and hence on national economies suggests that there is also an urgent need for increased effort to demonstrate the cost of these deficiencies, as well as the benefits of addressing them, especially compared with other health and nutrition interventions.

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