Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pediatricians Aim to Help At-Risk Kids Get Enough Food

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pediatricians Aim to Help At-Risk Kids Get Enough Food

Article excerpt

In the United States last year, 15 million children had limited access to adequate food because of a lack of money and other resources. Alarmed by that fact, the nation's pediatricians plan to take action.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, at its national conference in Washington, D.C., today will call on its doctors to take an active role in screening families for problems getting healthy food and providing resources to help, as well as taking an advocacy role in public policy to reverse the trend.

"Pediatricians are totally aware of poverty and its problems for children. Not eating well has consequences," said a local pediatrician, Ned Ketyer. His practice, Pediatric Alliance, talks about nutritional, dietary and behavioral issues with parents and children -and emphasizes the importance of breakfast.

The academy, in the journal Pediatrics, has published a policy statement outlining how food insecurity creates stress in families, adding to depression and anxiety that makes "optimal parenting difficult regardless of social class."

It notes that adults in such households often have a worse diet than the children and that parents limit how much they eat "in an effort to spare their children."

"We understand the impact of food insecurity on people's health. There's a connection there. It can have a great impact," said Lisa Scales, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. "If a child is food insecure for four years, they are 200 times more likely to suffer from poor health."

Among the problems, the academy's statement said:

* Children up to 3 years old have poorer overall health and more hospitalizations than those who have adequate food.

* Young children and teenagers are more likely to be iron deficient.

* There's an association with lower bone density in preadolescent boys.

For children of all ages, food insecurity has been associated with lower cognitive skills and behavioral and emotional problems, the statement said. …

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