Wednesday, November 18, 2015
A lack of access to sufficient nutritious food has been the bane of efforts to improve child health world over. Adding fuel to the fire, a recent study by sociologists at Rice University has now found that children who transition from access to adequate food to low food availability or food insecurity fare low on behaviour, in addition to suffering from poor health.
Featuring in the November edition of Health Affairs, the study titled "Transitions into Food Insecurity associated with Behavior Problems and Worse Overall Health among Children", examined changes in food insecurity among kindergarteners and first-graders from 2011 to 2012. For this, the researchers obtained data on 6,300 kids from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study between 2010 and 2012.
As part of the study, the researchers looked at the children’s performance on tests of verbal and nonverbal communication, self control, external behaviour (breaking rules, displaying physical aggression and threatening others) and internal behaviour (withholding feelings due to difficulty in handling negative emotions or stress).
They found that the children who changed from sufficient food availability at an individual or household level to food insecurity had lower scores (by about 5 percent) than the children who did not face food insecurity. They also found that the parent-reported child-health status was poorer for kids who experienced continual food insecurity and for those who moved into food insecurity from a previously adequate state.
To combat these negative outcomes in children, the researchers suggest implementing assistance programmes that focus on the acute needs of families in times of crisis. Explaining the implications of their findings. the researchers said "Children's behaviour outcomes and health status early in life are associated with reductions in workforce productivity and earnings, as well with greater health problems over the life course and shortened life overall. Our findings underline the importance of food security for the healthy development of children."
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