This study uses longitudinal data from 8,000 children in four developing countries (Young Lives Survey) to explore the linkages between nutritional status and later cognitive achievement on preschool children. Using multivariate regression analysis, a positive association between early nutrition (measured by Height-for-Age WHO Z-scores) and later preschool cognitive achievement is found in all the study countries. Similar evidence is found for school age children. Results control for a wide array of child, parental and household characteristics and include cluster fixed effects to account for between-community heterogeneity. These results suggest that, compared to well-nourished children, children that became malnourished early in life are in cognitive disadvantage before school enrolment.
Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010, Reaching the marginalized, 2010/ED/EFA/MRT/PI/17, 10 pp.