Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : The objective of the study was to analyze the role of minimum wage policy in Brazil for assurance of food security among low income individuals using two approaches: (1) evolution of its purchase power in relation to the cost of national basic food basket throughout time, and (2) nutritional adequacy of food items comprising the national basic food basket in relation to nutritional requirements of individuals relying on minimum wage income.
Methods : Historical data on the evolution of the Brazilian minimum wage and national basic food basket ranging from 1959 until 2018 were compiled and updated using official inflation rates. The food items comprising the national basic food basket were converted in nutrients according to Brazilian food composition tables. Additional information from the National Household Expenditures Survey in 2002-2003 and 2008-2009 were used to estimate the distribution of individuals according to income level, and calculate nutritional requirements. Overall nutritional quality of national basic food basket was also assessed using the Healthy Eating Index Revised, adapted for the Brazilian population.
Results : The average income earned in the lowest quintile of income was lower than the minimum wage in 2002-2003 and 2008-2009. Additionally, the cost of the national basic food basket comprised approximately 60% to 140% of one minimum wage during major part of the period. The nutritional composition of the national basic food basket, initially proposed to estimate the minimum wage, presented high content of calories, sodium, saturated fat and added sugar in comparison to recommendations for adults, and insufficient amounts of important nutrients (calcium, potassium and vitamin A) and food groups (fruits, vegetables and cereals).
Conclusions : The minimum wage policy has historical importance in the assurance of food security in Brazil; however, it is important to acknowledge the need for revision in the national basic food basket and its use as standard measure for estimation of living standards in Brazil.
Funding Sources : The study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001; and by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - Brasil (CNPq - Proc. 430850/2016-6).