Food, Economics, and Health

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Drawing on the author's extensive and varied research, this book provides readers with a firm grounding in the concepts and issues across several disciplines including economics, nutrition, psychology and public health in the hope of improving the design of food policies in the developed and developing world. Using longitudinal (panel) data from India, Bangladesh, Kenya, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Pakistan and extending the analytical framework used in economics and biomedical sciences to include multi-disciplinary analyses, Alok Bhargava shows how rigorous and thoughtful econometric and statistical analysis can improve our understanding of the relationships between a number of socioeconomic, nutritional, and behavioural variables on a number of issues like cognitive development in children and labour productivity in the developing world. These unique insights combined with a multi-disciplinary approach forge the way for a more refined and effective approach to food policy formation going forward. A chapter on the growing obesity epidemic is also included, highlighting the new set of problems facing not only developed but developing countries. The book also includes a glossary of technical terms to assist readers coming from a variety of disciplines.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Excellent... Alok Bhargava must be one of the most widely read microeconomists in the profession, displaying real depth of understanding in the nutrition, health, demography, and behavioral psychology. Bhargava is a pioneer, and we need to make this kind of work less of a rarity."—Economic Development and Cultural Change

"Alok Bhargava is a pioneer in efforts to break down the existing firewalls between the biomedical and social sciences and between the health profession and the food system.... The message of Food, Economics, and Health is clear, well documented, and of critical importance to the health professions.... Bhargava provides an important tool to assist readers, whether they are in nutritional science, economics, or the medical profession."—Journal of the American Medical Association

"Most books concerned with nutrition and health are written from the public health nutrition perspective. It is becoming increasingly clear that nutrition and health are both heavily dependent on economic, social, and political factors. ...The author [of this book] takes full advantage of both social science methodologies and approaches, and those of nutrition and health surveys and interventions. ...For professionals concerned with nutrition in these various disciplines, this book will be stimulating and exploring each chapter in detail will be rewarding."—Food and Nutrition Bulletin

"Alok Bhargava can always be expected to write important papers and texts on major topics concerning how real people live (or not) and the quality of their lives using advanced arguments from economics and based on skilled use of econometric methodology. Here he tackles the vital interaction between economics with health, food consumption, and economics tangled up with questions about attitudes to poverty and gender. This is a rich and difficult field and quickly leads to questions about the objectives of a society and the various difficult choices about how best to target resources.

Alok has written an excellent book which requires careful thought and introspection to get to all of its important topics."—Clive Granger, 2003 Nobel Prize for Economics Laureate and Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego

"Integrating food behavior, health activities, educational investments, and demographic choices into a coherent measure of family and individual welfare is a daunting task. This volume by Alok Bhargava succeeds in doing so at three different levels. First, the empirical models and techniques are state-of-the-art, so applied econometricians will be happy. Second, the models incorporate accepted bio-physical relationships from the public health and medical communities, so biological scientists interested in health-nutrition linkages no longer feel left out from economists' analyses. And third, the food policy community now has a rigorous, empirically-based set of relationships that are amenable to public interventions. It is very good to have food policy analysis back on the research agenda in such an integrated and toughly empirical fashion."—C. Peter Timmer, Program on Food Security and Environment, Stanford University

"This monograph... give[s] an overview of quantitative analyses of data related to food consumption and population health.... Food, Economics and Health is intended for a wide variety of audiences...[and] those who are likely to find it most useful are those with an economics or econometrics background who are interested in learning the basic concepts of nutritional sciences and the translation of statistical analyses of nutritional data into health policy."—Journal of Biosocial Science

"Food, Economics and Health presents an interesting approach to nutrition and food politics.... [It is] a thoughtful overview of the determinants of food consumption and their implications on health and economic outcomes.... The book is a provocative attempt to build a bridge between scientists from diverse disciplines (nutrition, anthropology, psychology, economics and public health) and decision-makers."—Bulletin of the World Health Organization

"Excellent and highly useful.... Food, Economics, and Health is a well-written, creative, and highly useful volume that integrates what had previously been disparate analytical perspectives."—Economics and Human Biology

"Timely.... [This book] provides a rare example of a truly multi-disciplinary treatment of a complex set of issues.... A very useful and required reference."—European Review of Agricultural Economics

"Impressive... an excellent summary of a wide literature and of the models that underlie the approaches of difference disciplines."—Population Studies

"This book is a shining example of the immense potential and value of a multi-disciplinary approach. ...conceptualises refreshing models that ingeniously converge distinct yet relevant disciplines to introduce a dynamic framework that analyses food consumption patterns over time.... Bhargava fashioned in this book an insightful, detailed and superbly organised presentation of analyses to make his case for the need to improve the quality of our diets—not only for the purpose of elevating quality of life, but also to improve productivity of labour."—Asian Journal of Social Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199269143
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alok Bhargava received his Ph.D. in econometrics from the London School of Economics in 1982. He has held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. Currently, he is a professor of economics at the University of Houston and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. Since 1989, he has been working on issues of nutrition, population health, child development, demography, and epidemiology in developing and developed countries. Many of his publications are on problems facing developing countries and have appeared in journals and his research is often cited in academic and policy forums and has influenced food policies in many settings.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

2 Demand for food and nutrients in developing countries 17

3 Nutrition and child health outcomes in developing countries 41

4 Child health and cognitive development in developing countries 64

5 Fertility, child mortality and economic development 90

6 Nutrition, health and productivity in developing countries 118

7 Behavior, diet and obesity in developed countries 138

8 Summing up and concluding remarks 179

References 188

Subject index 205

Author index 218

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