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The Limits of Health and Nutrition Education: Evidence from Three Randomized Controlled Trials in Rural China

Publication Date: 
April 27, 2012

CESifo Economic Studies 58(2): 385-404, 2012 (with Renfu Luo, Yaojiang Shi, Linxiu Zhang, Huiping Zhang, Alexis Medina, and Scott Rozelle)

This article studies whether or not health education programs targeting childhood anemia are sufficient for changing health behavior and nutrition in rural China. We conducted three different randomized-controlled trials of single and multiple face-to-face education sessions with parents and distributed written health education materials—and compare our results with a simple vitamin distribution program. Across all three studies, we find little evidence of changes in blood hemoglobin concentration or anemia status. In contrast, in our two studies that also examined a multivitamin supplementation intervention, we find meaningful reductions in anemia.