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CAB Reviews

A reviews journal covering agriculture, global health, nutrition, natural resources and veterinary science

CAB Review

Proposed strategies for mitigating the impact of high food prices on nutrition and health in Latin America and the Caribbean.


High food prices are expected to have detrimental impacts on the dietary intake of vulnerable populations around the world, exacerbating malnutrition and poor health. Prior to the onset of the price rises, 53 million individuals in Latin America already lacked sufficient daily energy intake, and the rates of anaemia and high child stunting suggest widespread vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Where households cope with high prices by eliminating more expensive, nutrient-dense foods from their diets, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies will increase, especially among those with the highest nutrient needs: pregnant and lactating women, young children and the chronically ill. Unaddressed, food price increases will stunt the growth and development of a generation. This paper reviews market-based and non-market-based options for augmenting the emergency nutrition safety net in Latin American and Caribbean nations. Because the region has the unique advantage of numerous established conditional cash transfer programmes enabled by political stability and well-functioning market economies, much focus is given to their strengths, weaknesses and potential to mitigate the effects of high food prices. Yet, as these programmes sometimes fail to target the urban poor or reach marginalized rural communities that lack access to infrastructure and markets, food-based interventions remain indispensable for restoring micronutrient and health status across the region. Contextual factors, including the specific nutrient deficiencies of concern and the condition of and access to infrastructure and markets, should inform the combination of interventions selected.

CAB Review details

  • History
  • Published: 4 February 2009
  • ISSN
  • 1749-8848
  • Publisher information
  • CABI Wallingford UK
  • Record Number
  • 20093008871