The Cost of Nutritious Food in South Asia

26 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2018 Last revised: 13 Sep 2018

See all articles by Felipe Jr Fadullon Dizon

Felipe Jr Fadullon Dizon

World Bank

Anna Herforth

Tufts University - Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Date Written: August 16, 2018


The high cost of nutritious foods can worsen poor diets and nutrition outcomes especially among low-income households. Yet little is known about the spatial and temporal patterns of the cost of nutritious diets in South Asia, where malnutrition in multiple forms remains high. Using existing food price data from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, two methods are applied to assess the affordability of nutritious foods: Cost of a Recommended Diet (CoRD) and Nutritious Food Price Index (NPI). The analysis finds that the cost of a nutritious diet is 38 percent higher in Sri Lanka using CoRD compared to the cost of a (calorie-based) diet that meets basic food needs, and 15 percent higher in Afghanistan. In addition, CoRD varies across cities due to variability in the price of dairy and vegetables. Comparison of the NPI and the food Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicates that, for some countries, the price of a nutritious food basket varies more by season and has been increasing at a faster rate than the price of a typical food basket. This phenomenon is largely due to the variable cost of vegetables.

Keywords: Nutrition, Food Security, Inequality, Crops and Crop Management Systems

Suggested Citation

Dizon, Felipe Jr Fadullon and Herforth, Anna, The Cost of Nutritious Food in South Asia (August 16, 2018). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8557, Available at SSRN:

Felipe Jr Fadullon Dizon (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Anna Herforth

Tufts University - Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy ( email )

150 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111
United States


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