Household Dietary Patterns and the Cost of a Nutritious Diet in Myanmar

IFPRI Discussion Paper 1854

65 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2019 Last revised: 9 Aug 2019

See all articles by Kristi Mahrt

Kristi Mahrt

Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

David Mather

Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics

Anna Herforth

Tufts University - Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Derek Headey

CGIAR - Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division

Date Written: August 1, 2019

Abstract

Despite significant poverty reduction over the past decade, undernutrition in Myanmar remains widespread. Food prices play an important role in influencing diets and nutrition outcomes, especially for poorer households. In this study, we use national household food expenditure data to assess dietary patterns and estimate regional costs of nutritious diets in Myanmar relative to a recommended diet derived from food-based dietary guidelines. We estimate these costs following the cost of a recommended diet method (CoRD), which is based on minimum food group prices. We also develop and demonstrate an extension of this method using food group prices that reflect typical food consumption preferences (CoRD-FP). We assess the affordability of the recommended diet by comparing observed household food expenditure to the CoRD and the CoRD-FP. In 2015, 52 percent of the Myanmar population lived in households with food expenditure below the CoRD-FP, compared to 70 percent in 2010. Even the CoRD, which measures the lowest possible cost of meeting the recommended diet, exceeded household food expenditure for 32 and 24 percent of the population in 2010 and 2015, respectively. Low affordability is driven by high costs of animal-source foods and vegetables, which account for half the CoRD-FP. A majority of households over-consume staples and under-consume micronutrient-dense food groups. This imbalance is driven in part by the high caloric price of nutrient-dense foods relative to rice. The inability of more than half of households in Myanmar to afford a recommended diet at existing food expenditure levels suggests the need for policies that reduce the prices of micronutrient-dense foods, ideally through pro-poor improvements in agricultural productivity and marketing.

Keywords: food prices, dietary guidelines, diet, nutrition, food consumption

Suggested Citation

Mahrt, Kristi and Mather, David and Herforth, Anna and Headey, Derek, Household Dietary Patterns and the Cost of a Nutritious Diet in Myanmar (August 1, 2019). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1854, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3430692

Kristi Mahrt (Contact Author)

Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

David Mather

Michigan State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Anna Herforth

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

150 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111
United States

HOME PAGE: http://ianda.nutrition.tufts.edu/team/anna-herforth-phd

Derek Headey

CGIAR - Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division ( email )

Washington, DC 20005
United States

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