Studies show that growing up in a home without adequate food can damage children in many ways. Even if they are not hungry themselves, babies and toddlers in households with slight food shortages are more likely to be hospitalized, at risk for developmental delays and to be raised by mothers who are depressed. While not all children develop these problems, here are some of the other effects researchers have found can be associated with food shortages:
— Slower brain and cognitive development by age 3.
— Less ready for school by age 5.
— Lower academic performance ages 6 to 17.
— Slower physical, mental and social development through age 17.
— Worse social skills and behavior, and greater chance of mental health problems, ages 6 to 17.
— Children report themselves as less happy ages 6 to 17.
Research shows that hunger and poor nutrition among children are rooted in a complex web of strains on poor families, not just a shortage of food. This is because parents must make hard trade-offs in how they spend scarce money, and groceries sometimes suffer when other bills mount. Here are some specific effects:
— Children whose families are on waiting lists for government housing subsidies are eight times more likely to be underweight than those whose families already are getting housing assistance.
— In poor families that do not get the government’s main form of energy assistance, called LIHEAP, babies and toddlers are nearly one-quarter more likely than those who get the help to be underweight and one-third more likely to have been hospitalized.
Via Washington Post