Poverty and Undernutrition

Theory, Measurement, and Policy

A large share of the population in many developing countries suffer from chronic undernutrition. In this book, Professor Svedberg provides a detailed comparative study of undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the two worst affected areas, and provides crucial advice for all those concerned in development worldwide. The book concentrates on the five challenges that undernutrition creates: what undernutrition is, who the undernourished are, where the undernourished are, when people are undernourished, and why people are undernourished. The book is divided into five parts: Part I introduces the main paradigms and controversies of undernutrition; Part II deals with the relationship in the individual between calorie intake/expenditure, work effort, body weight, and income; Part III assesses the method of defining and measuring undernutrition based on estimates of gaps between calorie intake and calorie requirements for households; Part IV provides a parallel analysis of the main alternative approach to defining and measuring undernutrition, based on anthropometric assessment, mainly of young children, but also adolescents and adults; Part V analyses the consequences and causes of anthropometric failure, as well as the related policy issues.


This is one of the few books that address all major issues in the area of undernutrition with an admirable comprehensiveness, clarity and competence ... this is a rich and definitive study of the links between undernutrition and poverty ... this is a book of considerable originality and scholarship, and sets standards of analytical rigour that will be hard to surpass in further work on the links between undernutrition and poverty.' - Development and Change

'Svedberg's case is well argued ... This is an impressive book, fully justifying the ringing endorsement it receives in Professor Amartya Sen's Foreword. Apart from providing the most comprehensive exposition to date on the 'FAO-WHO debate', it presents complex technical material on the economics of nutrition accessibly for the non-specialist, and addresses other topical policy debates in this area, notably the relationship between poverty and nutrition status.' - The Journal of Development Studies