WHAT IMPROVING HEALTH AND NUTRITION DOES FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. I have been talking to a friend who has a pessimistic view of the world. This is an optimistic post. I posted here about Robert Fogel’s book THE ESCAPE FROM HUNGER AND PREMATURE DEATH and linked to this review of the book, which quotes many of Fogel’s insights. Fogel argued that the major reason that health has improved over time has been the improved nutrition resulting from economic growth rather than improved medical care. Instapundit called attention to a new book,
THE CHANGING BODY: HEALTH, NUTRITION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN THE WESTERN WORLD SINCE 1700 by Roderick Floud, Robert W. Fogel, Bernard Harris and Sok Chul Hong, which develops some of Fogel’s ideas. The first pages of the book (using Amazon’s Look Inside feature) say that the theme of the book is that improving the health of mothers and children in one generation greatly improves both the health and the productivity of the next generation. Improved nutrition leads rapidly to taller and stronger children. Healthier children are more productive as adults. Data on changes in height can be used to measure changes in standards of living. Improving the nutrition of the very poor today will increase economic growth in the next generation.

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