Although it might not be a striking observation at first glance, food insecurity still affects children in the U.S., as well as their families. With food banks, community programs, federal and state initiatives set in place, it is striking that many are still affected by food insecurity and inadequate nutrition, or too little to develop into healthy adults.
Against this background, the American Academy of Pediatricians launched a breakthrough initiative that will be subject to vetting by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. On Monday, the initiative proposing that every physician visit includes mandatory screening to determine the risk of food insecurity a family might face will be discussed.
The screening will include just two questions, with two simple answers that will allow physicians to determine if a child or a family has sufficient food and if they are nourished properly. Following, the physicians will guide the families to the best options that offer the opportunity to put sufficient food on the table.
Of course, there might be reluctance and a lot of barriers must be crossed in order to establish an efficient, nation-wide program. However, the initiative of the American Academy of Pediatricians is based on hard data released in the past years.
A report of the same institution and published last year revealed that 16 million U.S. children face food insecurity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this year in September revealed that far less children are facing inadequate and insufficient nutrition compared to the period of the recession. However, more efforts are needed to bring sufficient food to families and children in need.
The initiative of the American Academy of Pediatricians is lauded by many health practitioners who find it otherwise difficult to approach such a sensitive issue. It’s important for physicians to perform the screening with all patients coming in their offices. Building a trust relationship means curbing food insecurity and avoiding a wide array of body and mental health issues associated with insufficient and inadequate nutrition.
Particularly with children, food insecurity may prevent them from growing into healthy adults. Medical conditions such as hyperlipidemia, or diabetes, low bone density, insufficient minerals and vitamins are just a few examples. Some may develop in even more aggravating medical conditions, even fatal.
Children who do not have an adequate nutrition may also perform worse in school and may be facing harsh concentration issues and even depression or higher stress levels.
The initiative of the American Academy of Pediatricians is primarily based on the finding that food insecurity still affects children in the U.S. As such, food security screenings should become an efficient tool for detecting those at risk and providing help.
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