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Study: Tobacco Jeopardizes Child Nutrition in Developing Countries

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A new study suggests that the nutrition of children in developing countries who live with a smoker may be impacted negatively because a large amount of the family's income is spent on cigarettes, the Voice of America reported Sept. 15.

Steven Block, an economist who studied data that Helen Keller International collected from Indonesia, found that among the poorest families in Java, “when there is a smoker in the household, they spent approximately 10 percent of their household budget on tobacco products.”

That could mean that food needs, as well as housing, healthcare or education, are being overlooked in favor of feeding the smoker's addiction, the study suggests.

“Because these tobacco expenditures are displacing food expenditures, we can document that the children are slightly shorter on average in those households,” said Block.

The study appeared in the October 2009 issue of the journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

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