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August 01, 2004

Almost There

The Economist starts off its short piece Empty bowls, heads and pockets with:

PEOPLE in very poor countries are, on average, less intelligent than those in rich ones.

Hold the applause for a moment. The article continues:

Some readers may be shocked by this statement, so let's rephrase it.

Bait and switch.

Without proper nutrition, the human body cannot develop properly. That includes the brain. Those who are ill-fed tend to end up both physically shorter and less mentally agile than they otherwise would have been. Hunger also spurs millions of children to drop out of school in order to scavenge for food, and those who manage to attend school despite empty bellies find it excruciatingly hard to concentrate.

There is nothing untrue here, indeed, the link between nutrition and mental development in the third world should be trumpeted to all ears. But I still have the feeling that The Economist has looked h-bd in the face and blinked.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 01:45 PM