Definition of the Nutrition Problem in the Labor Force

  • Fernando E. Viteri
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 7)


Arteaga made reference to the fact that many of the adult laborers in Latin America are suboptimally nourished, and proposed a series of measures aimed at correcting this situation. I will present a very brief summary of our findings on the nutrition, body composition, work performance, and energy balance of rural agricultural workers in Guatemala to illustrate some of the negative interactions between nutritional deficiencies and work performance, productivity, and socioeconomic development. The characteristics that stand out most clearly among male agricultural laborers in a tropical, developing area are their small size, leanness, slow working pace, and, in the lowlands, often their pallor. Over 30% of them have hookworm infection (1). Dietary surveys indicate that their calorie intakes are frequently less than 2700 per day (2), with protein intakes ranging between 70 and 90 g per day (2,3). Often riboflavin, folate, and vitamin A are inadequate (2). Further observations and inquiries bring about other so-called characteristics: They are often referred to as “lazy, inefficient workers,” and as people who find it difficult to engage in after-work activities aimed at individual or communal betterment. In other words, they are apathetic human beings.


Lean Body Mass Agricultural Worker Maximal Oxygen Consumption Agricultural Laborer Nutrition Problem 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando E. Viteri
    • 1
  1. 1.Biomedical DivisionInstitute of Nutrition of Central America and PanamaGuatemala CityGuatemala

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