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Abstract

We analyze how the nutrition transition, which involves a westernization of diets and increased consumption of calorie-dense, processed foods, affects child malnutrition in developing countries. It is often assumed that the nutrition transition affects child weight but not child growth, which could be one reason why child underweight decreases faster than child stunting. But these effects have hardly been analyzed empirically. Our cross-country panel regressions show that the nutrition transition reduces child underweight, while no consistent effect on child overweight is found. Against common views, our results also suggest that the nutrition transition reduces child stunting. Further research is required to confirm these findings.

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