Though we have an obesity crisis in the United States a disproportionate amount of time is spent worrying about food availability for the poor - even though the poor lead in obesity.
How can both be possible? The Great Recession still lingers with us, unemployment is stuck at 90 million people, and it's no surprise that was particularly hard on low-income families. When business declines, taxes rise and the government mandates even more costly benefits, that will hurt the poorest people, just like any increase in the costs of products does.
Sociologists writing in Health Affairs frame the issue differently than obesity - they say less food availability for poor kids will mean more bad behavior after looking at transitions in food insecurity among kindergarteners and first-graders between 2011 and 2012.
"More than 1 in 5 U.S. children live in food-insecure households, a jump of nearly 30 percent from before the Great Recession, and this increased exposure to hardship warrants new estimates of the impact of food insecurity on child well-being," said Rachel Kimbro, an associate professor of sociology at Rice University. "There are widespread, significant differences in outcomes for these kids."
And new lunch programs that mandate a social agenda have replaced older programs where a school lunch may have been the best meal those kids had all day, leading to even more insecurity. They correlate that to behavior. Children who transitioned from food security to food insecurity between 2011 and 2012 scored about 5 percent lower than similar children who were not experiencing food insecurity on assessments of verbal and nonverbal communication, self control, external behavior (breaking rules, being physically aggressive and threatening others) and internal behavior (keeping feelings inside as a result of difficulty dealing with negative emotions or stress).
They also found that parent-reported child-health status was 4 percent worse for children who were persistently food-insecure and 5 percent worse for those who transitioned into food insecurity.
The study used nationally representative data for 6,300 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study between 2010 and 2012. The children were in kindergarten at the beginning of the study and in first grade at the conclusion of the study. The data for the study came from teachers and parents in the form of questionnaires. The researchers say they controlled for a number of factors related to socio-economic status.