In this study by SDSN member Will Masters and colleagues, the potential costs and impacts on child dietary intake of 12 nutrition-sensitive programmes in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India were estimated. Results show that the largest potential changes in child nutrient intake were achieved via food and resource transfers rather than via market prices or other mechanisms. However, these types of interventions were also the most costly per child targeted. Programs that aimed to alter preferences, change market prices or otherwise improve access to healthy foods tended to be less costly per child, even though some of these achieved comparable estimated levels of changes in dietary intake.

In future research, it will be important to consider the cost-effectiveness of these programs for different target populations. For instance, it may be that beneficiaries in more remote areas are best reached via transfers, while households closer to markets may be reached more cost-effectively via programs to alter prices and promote behaviour change.