November 9, 2009
A few days ago we posted a story about the growing hunger crisis in our communities. Another dimension to this story, one that's often overlooked, is the struggle many parents face in trying to provide healthy meals for their children on a tight budget.
In Monday's Oregonian, David Sarasohn explores the connection between child nutrition and health in the ninth installment of his series "In a Hungry Time." He writes, "more and more, doctors are seeing food insecurity as a gateway to health and behavioral problems that can have consequences long after the hunger pangs have eased."
Citing an article from the November "Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine," he writes that young children from food-insecure households are more likely to be hospitalized, have respiratory infections, and contract iron-deficiency anemia. As teenagers, they are 74% more likely to display socially disruptive behavior, and five times more likely to attempt suicide.
In light of the report's findings that nearly half of all American children - and 90% of African-American children - will rely on food stamps at some point during their childhood, the links between nutrition, health, behavior, academic success, and general well-being deserve a closer look.
Locally, groups like Food Hero are working to help parents add fruits and vegetables to their diets in fun, affordable, and easy ways. Check out their website for recipes, tips for buying on a budget, and fun ways to involve kids in a healthy diet.