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ERIC Number: EJ1189045
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2155-5834
Food Insecurity and the Behavioral and Intellectual Development of Children: A Review of the Evidence
Perez-Escamilla, Fafael; de Toledo Vianna, Rodrigo Pinheiro
Journal of Applied Research on Children, v3 n1 Article 9 2012
Background: Given that an alarming 1 in 5 children in the USA are at risk of hunger (1 in 3 among black and Latino children), and that 3.9 million households with children are food insecure, it is crucial to understand how household food insecurity (HFI) affects the present and future well-being of our children. Purpose: The objectives of this review article are to: (i) examine the association between HFI and child intellectual, behavioral and psycho-emotional development, controlling for socio-economic indicators; (ii) review the hypothesis that HFI is indeed a mediator of the relationship between poverty and poor child development outcomes; (iii) examine if the potential impact of HFI on caregivers' mental health well-being mediates the relationship between HFI and child development outcomes. Methods: Pubmed search using the key words "food insecurity children." For articles to be included they had to: (i) be based on studies measuring HFI using an experience-based scale, (ii) be peer reviewed, and (iii) include child intellectual, behavioral and/or socio-emotional development outcomes. Studies were also selected based on backward and forward Pubmed searches, and from the authors' files. After reviewing the abstracts based on inclusion criteria a total of 26 studies were selected. Results: HFI represents not only a biological but also a psycho-emotional and developmental challenge to children exposed to it. Children exposed to HFI are more likely to internalize or externalize problems, as compared to children not exposed to HFI. This in turn is likely to translate into poor academic/cognitive performance and intellectual achievement later on in life. A pathway through which HFI may affect child development is possibly mediated by caregivers' mental health status, especially parental stress and depression. Thus, HFI is likely to foster dysfunctional family environments. Conclusion: Findings indicate that food insecure households may require continued food assistance and psycho-emotional support until they transition to a "stable" food secure situation. This approach will require a much better integration of social policies and access to programs offering food assistance and mental health services to those in need. Findings also fully justify increased access of vulnerable children to programs that promote early in life improved nutrition as well as early psycho-social and cognitive stimulation opportunities.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: P20MD001765