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Book reviews and notices
Food policy: Integrating supply, distribution, and consumption. Edited by J. Price Gittinger, Joanne Leslie, and Caroline Hoisington. EDI Series in Economic Development. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., USA, 1987. 567 pages.
This book, edited for the World Bank by individuals noted for their expertise, discusses food-policy issues in developing countries, with comparable attention to supply, distribution, and consumption. The introduction points out that one of the goals of a broad-based food policy should be to prevent marginal inadequacies at both the individual and national levels, so that, if crises do occur, they will not result either in individual cases of acute malnutrition or in famines.
These 38 articles were excerpted for the use of specialists or students concerned with food policy who are discipline-oriented but who recognize that food policy must be broadly based. Several sections provide an overview of current thinking on food policy and the world situation with respect to production, trade, security, and distribution of food. Other sections deal with a set of difficult distribution issues and with the major nutrient deficiencies of the developing world-protein-energy malnutrition, iron-deficiency anaemia, vitamin-A deficiency, and iodine-deficiency disorders.
A final section examines past food and nutrition planning and concludes that it was not well integrated, as it focused mainly on sector programmes that were usually poorly implemented. Some recent successes are included, however.
Many of these articles would difficult to locate if they were not conveniently assembled in this book. The publication contains valuable guidance on nutrition policy and is strongly recommended for all concerned in this vital area.
Malnutrition and human behavior: Experimental clinical and community studies. Josef Brozek. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1985. US$49.95.
There is no more significant theme in twentieth century nutrition research than the relationship between malnutrition and learning and behaviour. Reviews, whether of journal or book length, are no substitute for the classic original articles on which knowledge in this field is based. Brozek, who has participated personally in the research and scientific meetings in the field almost from its beginning, has selected 28 of the most significant articles published from 1946 to 1984 and two even earlier ones.
The volume begins with two papers on the behaviour consequences of malnutrition studied in a community during World War I and in a university laboratory during World War II. The body of the volume is devoted to both pioneering clinical studies and intervention efforts. It closes with articles that place behavioural research on malnutrition within a broader framework of research on nutrition and behaviour. The concluding overview, author citation index, and subject index are helpful.
Everyone concerned with human nutrition, development, and behaviour will appreciate the opportunity to find carefully edited excerpts from these classic studies in a single volume.
Food policy in Mexico: The search for self sufficiency. Edited by James E. Austin and Gustavo Esteva. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., USA, 1987.
This is an important book for persons responsible for or interested in national food and nutrition policies. It adds to the small number of documented cases in which a change in national policy proved capable of bringing about an almost immediate improvement in food production, and also highlights the vulnerability of policies to change in government. This edited volume with 16 chapters documents the origins, implementation, results, and demise of the Sistema Alimentario Mexicano ISAM), Mexico's effort initiated in 1980 to stimulate food production by peasants, achieve food self-sufficiency, and improve the distribution and consumption of food.
The programme was developed when it became clear that an agriculture policy focused on production increases alone had led to nutritional deficits, low production, rural poverty, and massive migration to the cities. By 1982 it was clear that food production by peasants was increasing, Mexico was approaching self-sufficiency once again, and consumption among the poor had increased. Just as evidence of its success was accumulating, a change in government and almost immediately a severe economic crisis due to the fall in the price of oil ended the programme three years after it was begun. This book is written authoritatively by individuals who were close observers, policy-makers, or managers of SAM. The editors, distinguished academics, themselves observers of SAM, provide valuable introductory and final chapters. Persons responsible for national food and nutrition policies of food-short countries can learn a great deal from Mexico's experience.
The infant-feeding triad: Infant, mother, and household. Barry M. Popkin, Tamar Lasky, Judith Litvin, Deborah Spicer, and Monica E. Yamamoto. Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology, vol. 5. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, New York, 1986.
This is a comprehensive review of infant-feeding practices, infant feeding and maternal nutrition, and the significance to the household of an infant member. It describes concisely but completely the relationships between infant feeding and morbidity, growth, and overall health as well as that between maternal nutrition and infant health. The chapter on infant feeding, fecundity, and fertility is well documented and informative. An unusual feature is the chapter on the effect of having an infant in the household on costs, time allocation, and home production. A brief summary chapter explains the title in terms of the interactions between infant, mother, and the rest of the household. The book is recommended for its content and readability.
How to weigh and measure children: Assessing the nutritional status of young children in household surveys. United Nations, New York, 1986. (DP/UN/INT-81-041/6E)
This profusely illustrated guide produced for the National Household Survey Capability Programme describes step by step the precautions to take before measuring children's weight and height, and the actual measurement procedures. The section on quality control is important and well done. Annexes give additional guidance on selecting personnel, assessing age, standardizing equipment, and procedures for standardizing the collection of anthropometric data in the field as well as a check list of field equipment. A separate, removable annex summarizes the procedures and could be useful as a guide for training and initial standardization of procedures. This publication is highly recommended.
Human body composition and fat distribution. Edited by N. G. Norgan. Report of an EC workshop, London, 10-12 December 1985. Department of Human Sciences, University of Technology, Loughborough, UK, 1985. 250 pages.
This report can be obtained from the Department of Human Nutrition, Agricultural University, De Dreijen 12, 6703 BC Wageningen, Netherlands.
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