SNAP: Just What the Doctor Ordered
By Helly Lee
We all know that food is a basic necessity in life. It provides the nutrition that helps us to grow, function and be healthy. Yet, for too many families across the U.S., ensuring access to food remains a challenge. In 2011, 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children lived in food insecure households, meaning that they did not have access to enough food or that their choice of food was limited at least some time during the year. One third of food insecure households, 6.8 million households, experienced very low food security, meaning the food intake of some household members were reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted due to limited resources. This can have serious health implications.
A new report by the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) confirms that there are significant health consequences associated with living in poverty and being food insecure. Research has shown that those living in poverty experience disproportionately worse health outcomes and often live in environments that do not promote healthy lifestyles such as fewer walking trails, parks, and full service-grocery stores offering affordable foods as well as poor air and water quality. Children living in poverty and experiencing food insecurity are also more likely to experience serious health issues such as obesity, poor oral and dental health, asthma and poor academic outcomes, behavioral and emotional problems. In addition, childhood poverty can have lasting implications into adulthood, increasing health risks and economic struggles later in life.