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The cost of hunger: Social and economic impact of child undernutrition in Central America and the Dominican Republic

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UN symbol.: LC/W.144 197 p. Editorial: ECLAC February 2008


This document presents the results derived from the analyses of the cost of undernutrition in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

The study shows that not only are the effects reported valid for the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic, but the resultant economic impact is also significant, representing between 1.7% and 11.4% of GDP. In this regard, productivity losses as a consequence of the higher death rate and the lower level of education account for 90% of the costs. Thus, in addition to the ethical imperative, eradicating undernutrition would yield benefits as well. Therefore, any programme that is effective in reducing the prevalence of this problem will have an impact on people's quality of life, and will also represent major savings for society. The greater the problem, the greater the challenge, but the greater the benefits as well, especially in terms of countries' production capacity.