Research Brief #18: Food prices, their determinants and connections to child nutrition in Nepal

Authors: Gerald Shively; Ganesh Thapa

A majority of Nepalese households are net buyers of food and depend on markets for their food purchases (CBS 2011). As a result, market performance and food prices directly influence levels of household consumption. These, in turn, can influence nutrition outcomes. Given the potentially deleterious effects of high food prices on child nutrition outcomes in food-purchasing households, one of the important pathways to reducing child malnutrition rates over time is likely to be by increasing market efficiency and reducing food prices. A number of studies have documented a negative association between food prices and child nutrition outcomes. Higher sugar and dairy prices were associated with lowered child height in Brazil (Thomas and Strauss 1992); higher food prices were found to be detrimental to short-term child nutrition outcomes (weight-for-height) in Cote d’Ivoire (Thomas et al. 1992); increases in prices of plantain and sugar were found to negatively affect short-term child nutrition outcomes in rural areas of Ghana (Lavy et al. 1996); and food price increases had negative impacts on child health in Kenya (Grace et al. 2014).