Healthy school lunch. Picture: Twitter
New research shows a link in rising food prices and childhood malnutrition and poorer performance in adults, negatively influencing studying and workplace productivity.
Pietermaritzburg-based non-governmental organisation Economic Justice and Dignity found increases in the prices of nutritious food, such as vegetables, had left the working class in KwaZulu-Natal unable to afford diets containing the nutrients that play a vital role in children’s growth.
The research found stunting levels caused by poverty in male children were up 30% and 25% for females.
The cost of feeding a child a basic nutritious diet per month is R679, which meant the 12.3 million children dependent on the state’s child support grant of R430 per month did not get enough nutritious food.
About 25.3% of South Africans live on or below the food poverty line of R561, and 62% live below the upper-bound poverty line of R1,227 per month.
Lead researcher Mervyn Abrahams said proper development of the human body depended on receiving sufficient nutrients.
These nutrients enhance intellectual development and without them many children suffered from lack of brain development (stunting).
“When a child does not get sufficient nutritious meals they end up not having the ability to cognitively utilise information which they receive at school.
“This is the beginning of the seemingly never-ending poverty trap, for when kids cannot fully participate in school, they don’t perform well.
“This results in them not making good career choices that would enable them to financially provide for themselves and families.”
Abrahams said social grants helped to keep many children alive but not out of the poverty cycle.
University of Zululand researcher Stella Sabi found 65% of students suffered from hunger and food insecurity, despite being recipients of study aid.
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