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Dietary Diversity, Food Security and Undernourishment: The Vietnamese Evidence

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As is widely known, Vietnam experienced a rise in living standards and a decline in expenditure poverty during the first half of the 1990s. This paper extends this knowledge by providing evidence on the Vietnamese experience of food security, undernourishment and poverty from the late 1990s to the early part of the new millennium. The results suggest that poor households did not experience increases in food consumption, calorie intake and dietary diversity of the same magnitude as non-poor households. Nevertheless, Vietnam experienced impressive reductions in both calorie deprivation and expenditure poverty at the turn of the century. Non-poor households, in particular, experienced spectacular increases in calorie intake and dietary diversity during the period 1997/1998–2004. This paper also reports regression results which point to the role of urbanization and improvement in education levels in promoting dietary diversity and nutrient intake. The present study finds evidence of sharp regional differences in calorie intake and calorie costs, which suggests that the authorities should set provincial poverty lines, contrary to the current practice adopted by Vietnam's General Statistical Office.
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Keywords: C23; O15; O53; R23; Vietnam; dietary diversity; food security; poverty line; prevalence of undernourishment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Economics, Monash University, Berwick Campus, Berwick, Vic 3806, Australia 2: Department of Economics, Monash University, Clayton, Vic 3800, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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