December 29, 2006

The NYT is catching up to on how to raise IQ in the 3rd World

The Times runs its second article of 2006 on how micronutrient fortification can help reduce the problem of low IQs in the Third World, equaling the number ran in 2004 (see here and here):

Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future

SHIMIDER, Ethiopia — ... Yet almost half of Ethiopia’s children are malnourished, and most do not die. Some suffer a different fate. Robbed of vital nutrients as children, they grow up stunted and sickly, weaklings in a land that still runs on manual labor. Some become intellectually stunted adults, shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points, unable to learn or even to concentrate, inclined to drop out of school early.

There are many children like this in the villages around Shimider. Nearly 6 in 10 are stunted; 10-year-olds can fail to top an adult’s belt buckle. They are frequently sick: diarrhea, chronic coughs and worse are standard for toddlers here.

Most disquieting, teachers say, many of the 775 children at Shimider Primary are below-average pupils — often well below. “They fall asleep,” said Eteafraw Baro, a third-grade teacher at the school. “Their minds are slow, and they don’t grasp what you teach them, and they’re always behind in class.”

Their hunger is neither a temporary inconvenience nor a quick death sentence. Rather, it is a chronic, lifelong, irreversible handicap that scuttles their futures and cripples Ethiopia’s hopes to join the developed world. “It is a barrier to improving our way of life,” said Dr. Girma Akalu, perhaps the nation’s leading nutrition expert. Ethiopia’s problem is sub-Saharan Africa’s curse.

Five million African children under age 5 died last year — 40 percent of deaths worldwide — and malnutrition was a major contributor to half of those deaths. Sub-Saharan children under 5 died not only at 22 times the rate of children in wealthy nations, but also at twice the rate for the entire developing world. But below the Sahara, 33 million more children under 5 are living with malnutrition. In United Nations surveys from 1995 to 2003, nearly half of sub-Saharan children under 5 were stunted or wasted, markers of malnutrition and harbingers of physical and mental problems.

The world mostly mourns the dead, not the survivors. Intellectual stunting is seldom obvious until it is too late.

Bleak as that may sound, the outlook for malnourished children in sub-Saharan Africa is better than in decades, thanks to an awakening to the issue — by selected governments, anyway. South Africa provides nutrient-fortified flour to 30 million of its 46 million citizens. Nigeria adds vitamin A to flour, cooking oil and sugar. Ethiopia’s government hopes to iodize all salt by year’s end. United Nations programs now cover three in four sub-Saharan children with twice-a-year doses of vitamin A supplements.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points

I think that this is an understatement. From what I understand, most black Africans have IQs that are in the 60s and 70s.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when I would see you address this...

Doesn't Bjorn Lomberg (sp?) list micronutrients as the thing that will get the most bang for the buck? Sounds like a plan to me!

Anonymous said...

"I think that this is an understatement. From what I understand, most black Africans have IQs that are in the 60s and 70s"

They just took the median African IQ in the developed world (85) and subtracted the median for Africans in Africa (70 - although recent estimates are a bit lower, high '60s) to get their figure of 15 points. I think that's probably if anything an overestimate, westerners benefit from other environmental factors as well as better nutrition.

Anonymous said...

The improvement in nutrition will benefit the IQ numbers, without question, but the fact is IQ in Africa will always be the lowest on planet. Africans as a group simply have sufficiently different brain structures that without thousands of years of selective breeding, massive crossbreeding with other groups, or genetic engineering, they will be the lowest in IQ of all groups of any size. (Various aboriginal groups are even lower but they are not significant in numbers and will probably die out as evolutionary deadd ends.)

Ryan Harris - said...

This is really fascinating.. the different is pretty scary. Nutrition goes a long way in making a real difference.