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Smokers' Homes More Likely to House Hungry Kids
Date:11/4/2008

Study finds twice the incidence of 'food insecurity'

TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Children who live with adult smokers are more likely to be underfed and undernourished, a new study finds.

The same is true for adult members of smoking households, but children feel the impact the most, said study author Dr. Michael Weitzman, chairman of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.

"We know that there are long-term consequences of food insecurity for children. They are more likely to do poorly in school, to have iron deficiency and anemia, and to have behavioral and social problems," Weitzman said.

"Food insecurity" is a concept that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1990s to study malnutrition in developed countries such as the United States. "It is a standardized scale measuring how many times a household cannot give children the food they want, how many meals they skip, how often they go to bed hungry," Weitzman said.

Looking at data on 8,817 households gathered in national surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Weitzman and his colleagues found that 15 percent of adults and 11 percent of children reported food insecurity within the past year, with 6 percent of adults and 1 percent of children experiencing severe food insecurity. This meant they went to bed hungry, because there wasn't enough food in the house.

The study found that 23 percent of households with children had at least one smoker, with the incidence higher -- 32 percent -- in low-income households. In those households with a smoker, 17 percent of children were food insecure, compared to 8.7 percent of those children in nonsmoking households. Severe food insecurity was reported for 3.2 percent of children in smoking households, compared to 0.9 percent of those living in households with no smokers.

Because families with at least one smoker spend an estimated
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