Abstract

This paper analyzes aspects relevant to the nutritional situation in Costa Rica and to a lesser extent the rest of Central America. The nutritional problems have been dealt in a realistic way trying to avoid magnification of the situation. The available data show that calorie-protein malnutrition, anemia and goiter are the problems that, in that order, should receive attention in public health planning. Deficient maternal education and infection of the child play a preponderant role in the etiology of calorie-protein malnutrition and anemia. Analyses presented here show the convenience to revise periodically the criteria used to characterize the nutritional status, in order to adequately plan health actions. Also, the necessity to carry out basic and applied research in the field is emphasized. The future of the nutritional situation is uncertain for the majority of the Central American countries. However, some demographic indicators reveal that nations such as Costa Rica probably will reach an adequate nutrition in a not too distant future.