118 Int'l Lab. Rev. 1 (1979)
Nutrition and Labour Productivity

handle is hein.journals/intlr118 and id is 15 raw text is: International Labour Review, Vol. 118, No. 1, January-February 1979

Nutrition and labour productivity
N. RAO MATURU*
Good nutrition not only contributes to the greater welfare and happi-
ness of mankind but also enables people to work and produce more. The
significant role that nutrition can play in improving labour productivity
and thereby speeding economic growth is obviously of particular import-
ance to developing countries, where a majority of the labour force consists
of the poor and undernourished. Improved nutrition resulting in higher
productivity by the working poor is essential to the attainment of a level of
output high enough to meet the basic needs of these countries' popula-
tions.I
The organisations of the United Nations system, in particular the FAO,
the WHO and the ILO, are giving increasing attention to this whole ques-
tion. The joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health, for
example, has recommended that occupational health programmes should
take due account of workers' nutrition, insisting that all workers should
have a diet corresponding to their physiological needs, including any spe-
cial demands made by their work and their general life-style. Among the
practical measures it suggested for attaining this objective was the provision
of canteens and similar facilities at the workplace.2
Nutritional requirements for work performance
The'nutritional requirements of human beings depend to some extent
on body size, sex, age, climate and state of health, but most of all they vary
according to the occupation pursued. What is sufficient for a sedentary life
is not so for physically active people. FAO/WHO's classification of occu-
pations in terms of physical activity is given in table 1. This was a first
attempt at such a classification and may have certain deficiencies which
could be corrected in the future. It may also need to be modified for use in
individual countries. All such classifications should be used with care since
the work performed in many occupations varies greatly and there are many
jobs that fit into more than one category. A farmer may be either a peasant
* Food and Nutrition Assessment Service, Food Policy and Nutrition Division, Food
and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

Copyright 0 International Labour Organisation 1979

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