Devonomics

Devonomics

It is difficult to answer questions about how Nigeria can and should achieve sustainable economic, social and political growth. This column takes a look at well known development economic theories and applies them to the unique Nigerian context.

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How what you earn affects how you eat

Martha Sambe

Martha Sambe

Martha is a graduate of Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata. She enjoys writing and researching topics in development, sociology, and religion.

In America, a sociology researcher discovered why poor people indulged in junk food: not only was it affordable, it was one of few indulgences they could afford. This referred to high-calorie food from fast food restaurants, prepackaged snacks like chin chin and soda, etc.

Meanwhile, wealthier people opted for healthier options because they could afford them and because it was responsible to have a healthier diet. Even when poor people tried to maintain a healthy diet, they found it prohibitively expensive and resorted back to junk food. 

But what is true in America is not entirely true in developing countries. In such places, junk food is heavily consumed by the rich and poor, and increased income doesn't translate into a healthier diet. Not unless higher income also triggers behavioural change.  

 

Nutrition Transition

The idea that diet changes as countries get richer is known as nutrition transition. There are five established transition patterns of nutrition as a country develops: the hunter-gatherer phase; early agriculture phase; end of famine; overeating/obesity-related diseases; and behavioural change. Many developing countries are caught between phase 3 and 4. i.e., between the end of famine and the onset of obesity-related diseases.

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