According to a recent journal article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, both preschool and school-aged children showed that chronic hunger and food insecurity are significant predictors of health conditions, even when taking other factors into consideration. The results of this study were featured in a recent article in the Native Health News Alliance. The article states that nationwide, one in seven families experience food insecurity at any given point during a year, and the rates are higher in Indian Country, thus increasing the risks for the physical effects that come with poor nutrition.
Hunger has a dramatic effect on the human body, and the influence of not having regular access to healthy food can be felt at a young age through its effects on childhood brain growth and cognitive function.
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Access to healthy, nutritious food can be a challenge, especially in rural areas. Those Americans residing in certain parts of the U.S. with limited access to affordable and healthy foods area said to be living in “food deserts” – with lengthy trips to food markets. These factors serve to make hunger among children a factor in poor health.
The American Heart Association advocates for policies that will raise public awareness about the importance of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle; and increasing the availability and use of fruits and vegetables, and other nutritious foods, particularly in our nation’s schools. This includes monitoring the USDA study on “food deserts” and developing policy recommendations to address the study’s outcomes.