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Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between nutrition intake and economic growth as an attempt to provide useful insights for FAO's Anti-Hunger Programme. It addresses the question of how much economic growth is lost by a country that has undernourished people. Real per capita gross domestic product (GDP), physical capital, protein intake, the openness index and the student'teacher ratio are investigated. The study uses vector autoregressions (VARs) to assess the long-run equilibrium relationship between nutrition intake and economic growth, and impulse response functions to reveal the short-run dynamics. The study's first major finding is that a 1 percent increase in protein intake will increase GDP by 0.49 percent in the long run. When this is applied at the sample mean, an increase of 176 g of protein intake per capita per year will cause an increase in real per capita GDP of 269 Sri Lanka rupees (SLRs). Therefore, a 1 percent increase in real per capita GDP is associated with a 2 percent increase in protein intake in the long run. In addition, impulse response functions reveal the short-run dynamics of real per capita GDP, protein intake and physical capital. These dynamics show that GDP responds to protein innovations relatively quickly. This rapid response of GDP is attributed to the contemporaneous productivity shock, as well as to an improvement in the quality of human capital. These results support FAO's twin-track approach to the fight against hunger. The results confirm that efforts to improve food security can have a direct impact on assisting the poor in the fight against hunger. Furthermore, it can be argued that food security has both a direct (short-term) and an indirect (sustainable) impact on economic growth.

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