WASHINGTON, DC – In a recent policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that, from this moment on pediatricians should start monitoring children for food insecurity, a measure of healthy food deprivation.

The AAP also advised that doctors become familiarized with needed community resources so that in the future they can refer families to them. Furthermore, physicians should advocate for federal and local policies that support access to adequate and nutritious food.

Over the past few years improvements have been made to address this issue in the U.S. Unfortunately, data still reports that more than 15 million U.S. children live in households still struggling with hunger, staying within historic highs.

Bangladeshi camp. Most of the children living there, are suffering from malnutrition. Credit: Duck Rabbit

Even though it is believed that food insecurity prevails in urban poor communities, researchers have found that this issue has extended into suburbs and rural America. Statistical data also showed that food insecurity prevailed in homes with children, low-income working families and families headed by a single parent.

These poor decisions come with short and long-term adverse health impacts. Sarah Schwarzenberg, a lead author of the policy statement and director at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital statet that “health effects of hunger on children are pervasive and long-lasting, which is why our new policy urges pediatricians to take action in and outside of the clinic to conquer food insecurity and promote child health,” as reported by the AAP.

The statement, which is promoting food security for all children, wants to eventually decrease negative health issues that are consequences of food insecurity. Impaired ability to concentrate and perform well in school, behavioral and emotional problems are some of the consequences mentioned by the AAP policy statement.

These children also have a tendency to get sick more often due to weaker immune systems, which causes them to have a harder time recovering. More serious consequences such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life have been also linked to childhood malnutrition.

AAP President, Sandra Hassink, insists that changes and new measures have to be taken to stop this nutritional crisis. Starting from the very young we can prevent future problems, helping not only children to become conscious with their eating habits but help parent change their unhealthy lifestyles as well.

Source: The Standard Daily