Pop the champagne!
The American Academy of Pediatrics – in other words, real, live health care professionals – have recommended that pediatricians screen all children for food insecurity.
If medical professionals heed their cry, we will see an acceleration of the movement to prevent disease through diet and nutrition education. It will also help us to catch hunger earlier, when its effects are most insidious and damaging to children who struggle to get enough food.
Health problems linked to hunger in the AAP policy statement include (and I will quote directly):
• Children who live in households that are food insecure, even at the lowest levels, get sick more often, recover more slowly from illness, have poorer overall health and are hospitalized more frequently.
• Children and adolescents affected by food insecurity are more likely to be iron deficient, and preadolescent boys dealing with hunger issues have lower bone density. Early childhood malnutrition also is tied to conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
• Lack of adequate healthy food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school and is linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems from preschool through adolescence.
If that doesn’t underscore the critical nature of getting good food to folks early, I don’t know what does.
The Capital Area Food Bank is on the front lines, working to support the health of children and their families in every community by providing access to good, healthy food. Join the movement and spread the word.