February 4, 2008

Research: Nutrition Increases Earning Potential

New research published in the British medical journal The Lancet indicates that babies who receive nutritious foods have an increased earning-ability as adults.

The findings, based on a three-decade study of Guatemalan males from birth, noted that those who were well-fed earned almost 50% more than those who were not.

Although there has been evidence that babies who are fed well grow to be stronger and richer than those who are not, the reasons why have been hard to find.

Food, schooling, the economic environment and the social services provided by government, all play a role, according to BBC News.

The importance of the study in Guatemala, which began in the 1970s, is that the only variable that changed was nutrition.

Some of the babies in the study were given a very nutritious food supplement, some a less nutritious one.

Three decades later, researchers returned to find that, among the men, those who were given the more nutritious supplement earning nearly half as much more per hour than the other villagers.

BBC reports that three of the girl babies who received the more nutritious supplement did not have similar wage differentials, possibly because they had less choice about where they worked.

The Lancet said these results were the first direct evidence of a clear link between early-life nutrition and adult wages, and that feeding babies well could drive economic growth.