Child Hunger Facts
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity.
Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.
Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.
Following are a few important facts with regard to child hunger:
In 2014, 15.5 million or approximately 21% of children in the U.S. live in poverty. (A)
Children who are food insecure are more likely to require hospitalization. (B)
Children who are food insecure may be at higher risk of chronic health conditions, (C) such as anemia, (D), (E) and asthma.
Children who are food insecure may have more frequent instances of oral health problems. (A)
Food insecurity among children is associated with poorer physical quality of life. (F)
Food insecure children may be at greater risk of truancy and school tardiness. (G)
Food insecure children may experience increases in an array of behavioral problems, including fighting, (H) hyperactivity, aggression, (I) anxiety, (J) mood swings and bullying. (K)
A. DeNavas-Walt, C. & B.D. Proctor. (2015). Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014. U.S. Census Bureau.
B. Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014, National Report. August 2014.
C. Kirkpatrick, McIntyre, and Potestio (2010) Child hunger and long-term adverse consequences for health. Archive of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 164 (8), 754-762.
D. Eicher-Miller, Mason, Weaver, McCabe, and Boushey (2009) Food insecurity is associated with iron deficiency anemia in U.S. adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90, 1358-1371.
E. Feeding America, Hunger in America 2014, Analysis of restricted-use dataset by the Urban Institute. March 2015.
F. Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2013. (2014). USDA FNS.
G. National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served (2015). USDA FNS.
H. Summer Food Service Program - Participation, Meals, and Costs (2015). USDA FNS.
I. Whitaker, Phillips, and Orzol (2006) Food insecurity and the risks of depression and anxiety in mothers and behavior problems in their pre-school-aged children. Pediatrics, 118, e859-e868.
J. Slopen, N., Fitzmaurice, G., Williams, D.R., & Gilman, S.E. (2010). Poverty, food insecurity, and the behavior of childhood internalizing and externalizing disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 444-452.
K. Huang (2010) Does food insecurity affect parental characteristics and child behavior? Testing mediation effects. Social Science Review, September, 381-401.