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“Are you hungry?” Experts urge pediatricians to screen for food insecurity

Nutrition and health go hand-in-hand. When children don’t have access to enough healthy foods, their health, behavior, emotions, and school performance can suffer. Children who are hungry get sick more often and have poorer overall health. Long-term malnutrition in childhood can cause serious health complications later in life as well.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new report about the ongoing health risks for children without adequate food. The AAP urges pediatricians to screen their patients for food insecurity and refer them to the appropriate resources where they can get help.

In this year’s annual NPCH Top 10 Report, about one-third of adults said hunger is a big problem for children in the U.S. But when they were shown current statistics about hunger, more than half said hunger is a big problem. Among African American adults, hunger made it into the list of the top 10 concerns they have for the health of children in the U.S.

According to a 2014 national survey from the National Voices Project, a sister study of the NPCH, only about half of adults who work or volunteer on behalf of children said that young children have lots of opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables. Adults who said there were racial and ethnic inequities in their communities were less likely to say children had lots of opportunity for fresh fruits and vegetables. Read the full report (.pdf).

What do you think?
Are you concerned about children in your community being hungry? What can pediatricians do to help? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.