Lent IV

Children’s HealthWatch is a nonpartisan network of pediatricians, public health researchers, and children’s health and policy experts, including some at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.  They have investigated “food insecurity”, which is defined as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.   Food insecurity can damage children’s health and brain development years before they enter a classroom. By kindergarten, food-insecure children often are cognitively, emotionally and physically behind their food-secure peers.   Due to increased risk for developmental delays, many food-insecure children have greater difficulty acquiring social and academic skills necessary to successfully make the transition to preschool or kindergarten.  Food insecurity predicts poor performance during a child’s first years at school, which has implications for future academic success. 

New research by Children’s HealthWatch found that children suffer negative health and developmental effects even at very low levels of inadequate access to nutritious food. Children under age three in marginally food-secure households were found to have health outcomes that are significantly worse than children in fully food-secure households. They are more likely to:

  • Be in fair/poor health
  • Be at risk for developmental delays
  • Have been hospitalized since birth
  • Lack stable housing
  • Live in households with inadequate heating or cooling
  • Have caregivers experiencing symptoms of depression
  • Have caregivers with fair/poor health