Every year, new research confirms what too many Idahoans already know: An increasing number of Idaho men, women and children go to bed hungry. The latest report, released by Feeding America in April, revealed a stunning 15.6 percent of Idaho's population doesn't know where their next meal will come from. Worse yet, 21.1 percent of Idaho children experience food insecurity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the nation's pediatricians to screen their young patients for insecurity. The New York Times reports food insecurity is linked to behavioral and emotional problems, in addition to poor physical health.
Dr. Mariana Chilton, co-principal Investigator for the Children’s HealthWatch Philadelphia site at Drexel University School of Public Health, told The Times, “It’s been very difficult to get the broader pediatrician community to pay attention to food insecurity, and yet it’s one of the most important vital signs of a child’s health and well-being."
The AAP hopes more pediatricians begin screening their patients to address two primary concerns: whether children are worried they will run out of food and if the groceries they do have will last before their parents have money to buy more.
"Pediatricians know about children's health," Dr. Sarah J. Schwarzenberg of the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital told The Times, adding that pediatricians should be advocating for more programs to provide healthy food for children.