The potential consequences of food insecurity for children
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2015, 13.1 million children under 18 in the United States lived in households where they were unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.
Infancy & Development
Children growing up in food-insecure families are vulnerable to poor health and stunted development from the earliest stages of life.[i]
Studies have found that food insecurity has been associated with health problems for children that may hinder their ability to function normally and participate fully in school and other activities.
Children who experience food insecurity may be at higher risk for behavioral issues and social difficulties.
[iv] Zaslow, Bronte-Tinkew, Capps, Horowitz, Moore, and Weinstein (2008) Food Security During Infancy: Implications for Attachment and Mental Proficiency in Toddlerhood. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 13 (1), 66-80.
[v] Cook, Frank, Leveson, Neault, Heeren, Black, Berkowitz, Casey, Meyers, Cutts, and Chilton (2006) Child food insecurity increases risks posed by household food insecurity to young children’s health. Journal of Nutrition, 136, 1073-1076.
[viii] Skalicky, Meyers, Adams, Yang, Cook, and Frank (2006) Child Food Insecurity and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Low-Income Infants and Toddlers in the United States. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 10 (2), 177-185.
[x] Casey, P.H., Szeto, K.L., Robbins, J.M., Stuff, J.E., Connell, C., Gossett, J.M., & Simpson, P.M. (2005). Child health-related quality of life and household food security. Archives Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 15, 51-56.
[xi] Murphy, Wehler, Pagano, Little, Kleinman and Jellinek (1998) Relationship Between Hunger and Psychosocial Functioning in Low-Income American Children. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37 (2), 163-170.
[xiv] Slopen, N., Fitzmaurice, G., Williams, D.R., & Gilman, S.E. (2010). Poverty, food insecurity, and the behavior of childhood internalizing and externalizing disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49,444-452.