March 31, 2011

Hunger In North America: Risky Environments For Children And Their Families

Researchers examine programs aimed at reducing food insecurity

Food security is defined by access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States and Canada, the number of households considered food insecure has increased more than 50 percent over the past four years, with one in three households in the United States experiencing very low food security. Young children and households headed by women are disproportionately affected.

Children raised in food insecure households are at increased risk of academic, health, and socio-emotional problems. In addition to being exposed to food insecurity in their households, these children are at greater risk of having mothers who are depressed, having inadequate access to health care, and living in homes that are unstable.

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) will host a symposium during its Biennial Meeting that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines"”including nutrition sciences, human development, public health, economics, family science, and public policy"”to consider this issue from a number of perspectives. Among the questions that will be addressed:

    * What are the effects of food insecurity on child development?
    * What are current government and charitable food assistance programs doing to address food insecurity, and what are the similarities and differences among programs?
    * How does current programming reduce the risk of children's health and academic problems?
    * What are the public policy implications of food insecurity, a problem that remains stubbornly persistent in North America?


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