Economic Impacts and Effects
- Loss of Labor
- Loss of mobility
- Cost of Medical help
- Global Aid Drain
- Manpower loss
- Cyclical nature of brain drain
Unknown to many, malnutrition has a heavy economic cost on every level of society. In fact many believe that economics is the primary cause of malnutrition, tying the “poverty cycle” as the single major cause of malnutrition.
Loss of Labor
In the developed world, malnutrition often leads to the break down of protein in an individual. This weakens them physically. By now, the poverty cycle will be familiar to you. The role of it is significant in economies as it leads once again to loss of money.
- Muscles which are made of protein are lost (atrophy) leading to individuals who are severely physically impaired.
- Labor, which is often the only resource of individuals in the developing world is lost. The loss of job will mean a direct decreases in the income of the invidual and their family.
- This loss of income and physical strength can signal the start of the poverty cycle as discussed in "The Problem".
The loss of labor often pulls the only monetary source available to a family. For the community this reduces the available resources and reduces the production of food. In terms of the country, it reduces Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore funding for infrastructure and funding. It also reduces the work force of a country, draining the economy. These problems for the country are further amplified in successive generations as the government continually relies on foreign aid to complement a lack of food production.
Loss of mobility from obesity
In developed countries obesity is the main concern in terms of the economy. Obesity restricts the jobs that are available to those individuals. While telecommuting is possible, other industries which require physical work are suffering. The loss of mobility also means loss of productivity because of the time required to move around. There are greater implcations which will be discussed further down.
In Europe alone, the cost of malnutrition excluding obesity is estimated at over 60 BILLION euros a year. Estimating the medical cost of malnutrition is hard, but it could potentially cumulatively run to the trillions of dollars after many years.
There is a hidden cost in malnutrition that we often fail to make note of. There are massive costs associated with malnutrition. The following facts have been compiled by us.
- In Europe alone, the cost of malnutrition excluding obesity is estimated at over 60 BILLION euros a year.
- The cost of obesity in one state of the US (california) is slated at 22 Billion US dollars.
- Micronutrient deficiency is costing a whopping 19 billion US dollars.Whereas providing everyone with the correct micronutrients would only cost a relatively small 1.5 billion.
- Estimating the medical cost of malnutrition is hard, but it could potentially cumulatively run to the trillions of dollars after many years.
First Hand Account
"The majority of older patients are being denied some of the basic care they need, leaving hundreds of thousands malnourished...Food, and help with eating it, should be recognised by ward staff as an essential part of care, and they should be given time to perform this task"
The cost and time required by medical staff to treat malnutrition is immense. Patients may require surgery and multiple checkups in addition to constant monitoring. The governments of developed countries often provide free health care and advertise heavily to prevent over-nutrition. This creates a massive drain in the economy and forces the government to spend billions to counter overnutrition, thus removing money that may already have been allocated to infrastructure, education and other important areas.
|Developing World||Developed World|
|Where||Loss of productivity, Cost of micronutrient supplements, cost of flying doctors in from other countries.||Cost to hospitals, cost of elective surgery to reduce effects of malnutrition, cost of constant checkups, cost of hiring carers.|
|Where could it be better spent?||Developing farmland, developing infrastructure, creating training facilities, paying for education.||Helping other countries, other more life threatening surgical operations, advanced infrastructure.|
Billions of dollars have been pumped by developed nations into aid for developing countries. In fact in 1999, it was estimated that the 42 poorest countries owed the developed world some 300 billion dollars. The annual total foreign aid which both directly and indirectly aids in relieving malnutrition cost the world 60 billion dollars. However, while billions have been spent, in the past the amount spent on food aid has often vastly surpassed the amount spent on agricultural infrastructure. The reliance on food aid rather than food development has caused increasingly large amounts of money to be drained. While global aid has been essential in alleviating the impacts of malnutrition, its underlying roots have not been targetted to resolve the problem. Continually billions are being used in the wrong ways and are being wasted in the process.
There is a financial drain not only on those who suffer from malnutrition but also their families. In many families, both the mother and father work, and in some instances even the children work. When a person becomes malnourished they need not only need medical attention but also constant care. This burden is placed on the family of the individual who is malnourished. In both developed and developing world this can place a lot of strain on the family. The income of the family may be heavily reduced as a result of other family members needing to care for the sick. This may well plunge the family into the poverty cycle and may begin to have ill health effects such as malnutrition on the rest of the family.
In Australia the countries 2.6 million carers cost a whopping 30.5 billion dollars. While this figure is reflective of caring for all diseases, a substantial amount are related to malnutrition. In the past there was a carers subsidy that ensured that families would not be placed under immense economic pressure. However as of 2008, the Australian government plans to cut this subsidy. This will place a renewed strain on carers.
Loss of brain power due to non-education
Malnutrition can lead to many physical and psychological problems. They can cause a person to become depressed or lose morale. This is of serious concern to the economy of a country. Professional jobs, which require a lot of thinking and provide a strong income for a country, can quickly evaporate reducing a country's productivity and GDP.
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Nutrition Improvement Program. (n.d.). DSM Nutritional Products. http://www.un.org/ecosoc/innovfair/DSM.pdf
PPI (2004) World Foreign Aid Totals $60 Billion a year http://www.ppionline.org/ppi_ci.cfm?knlgAreaID=108&subsecID=900003&contentID=25251
Healy, J. (2000) Foreign Aid World Debt http://www.spinneypress.com.au/134_book_desc.html
Douglas, J. (2006). Obesity could cost Global Economy as much as Malnutrition. Natural News.
Awwal, A.A. (2005) The vicious cycle of malnutrition http://nation.ittefaq.com/artman/exec/view.cgi/34/21403
Setboonsarng, S. (2005)