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Study finds that simple 2-question survey can better identify hungry children
Date:7/1/2010

reen Black, Ph.D., the John A. Scholl, M.D., and Mary Louise Scholl, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Unlike hungry children in Third World countries who may go without food, American parents have access to cheap, nutrient-deprived foods they can use to fill their children's bellies and maintain their weight. However, without critical nutrients such as iron, babies and toddlers can suffer from serious health consequences."

Health care professionals rarely ask parents if they have enough nutritious food to feed their families. "People who are hungry and who can't feed their kids are often anxious and depressed," says Dr. Black. "They don't feel good about this food is a basic need you're supposed to provide for your children."

Identifying hungry children and intervening early is so important because of the serious health effects kids can suffer without proper nutrition. Children younger than three who live in food-insecure households are 90 percent more likely to be in fair or poor health (versus good or excellent health) than children in food-secure homes. Hungry babies and toddlers are 31 percent more likely to have been hospitalized since birth, and 76 percent more likely to be at increased developmental risk than children in food-secure homes.

A quick, easy way of identifying hungry families can help them get assistance before the hunger seriously impacts the children's health. "Food stamps, welfare and programs like WIC can provide these families with nutrient-rich food to avoid the negative consequences of hunger," says Dr. Black.The researchers hope social workers, health professionals and other outreach workers who come in contact with needy families will begin using the quiz right away, and will immediately seek help for those who need it. Health care professionals in Baltimore can use a Web site set up by the City Health Department (www.
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Contact: Karen Buckelew
kbuckelew@som.umaryland.edu
410-706-7590
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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