Investing in nutrition for long-term returns: improved human capital and productivity

“Investments in improving nutrition in the first 1000 days should be considered as long-term economic investments because they improve human capital and productivity,” said Professor Reynaldo Martorell from the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (USA). He was speaking at a public lecture titled “50th Anniversary of the INCAP Longitudinal Study in Guatemala: Contributions to Nutrition Knowledge and Policy”, organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

This longitudinal, multidisciplinary nutrition intervention study was undertaken in rural Guatemala, from 1969 to 1977, by the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) that yielded important results about impact on child growth and development. It is among the best-known nutrition intervention trials, having generated data on two generations of people from the study locations over the last 50 years. Several follow-up studies have been carried out and research in these Guatemalan villages continues. These studies have traced the long-term impact of the nutrition intervention on a wide array of outcomes, including human capital and adult health. These have been widely published in academic journals. Some of the seminal pieces of work are listed at the end of this write-up. Professor Martorell shared the major contributions from these studies to nutrition knowledge and policy.