19 February 2013

Poverty – Nutrition Trap – Self-Enforcing Poverty II

Although this topic may seem out of your interest area, it has many implications for managers, human resources professionals and for people concerned with nudging.

The concept of “poverty – nutrition trap” is quite intuitive and goes something like this. Very poor people don’t earn enough money to buy sufficient food; this in turn leads to their weakening and subsequently to a decreased productivity and capability to earn money. Less money leads to not being able to buy sufficient food.

As you can see, this is a self-enforcing mechanism. Not enough money – not enough food – less money – less food.

I have to make a note here. By food I mean the right nutrients in the right quantities. Nutritionists know more, so I will allow them to develop if they wish to do so.

One interesting thing about the “poverty-nutrition trap” is that until recently it has been considered to be more of a theoretical construct that reality.  However, a recent study has proven that such a trap exists in real life, at least for some nutrients.

For more western-richer people this sounds as being very far away. In fact for Americans and Europeans the problem is not malnutrition, but rather “over-nutrition”. However, knowing about the poverty – nutrition trap helps managers to better understand the importance of providing adequate meals at the work place.

In my view there is little difference between lack of effectiveness due to malnutrition and lack of effectiveness due to bad-nutrition. I am not an expert in nutrition, but I guess that what kind of food we eat influences how our body and mind work.

Companies and organizations can provide catering for their employees or members and most importantly they can control what kind of food is served.

I have heard recently about a big company that had a campaign to sell “cola” and chips together as a “lunch solution” … sorry, that is not food …

Do you know examples of companies or organizations that tried this? Did it affect productivity or results?

Before ending, I’d make an observation on the recent distress about finding horse meat in what was supposed to be beef meat “ready-made food”.  Apart from the fact that horse meat is eatable and I think the panic is exaggerated, WHY buy “ready-made” meals??? Honestly, cooking is not that complicated and it doesn’t take more than half an hour to cook something decent.

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