Impacts of Hunger on Health

  • Food insecure adults have an increased risk of developing diabetes. (Feeding America website - Seligman, Bindman, Vittinghoff, Kanaya, & Kushel, 2007; Nelson, Cunningham, Andersen, Harrison & Gelberg, 2001)
  • Food insecurity is associated with a range of chronic illnesses such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and various cardiovascular risk factors. (Feeding America website - Slack & Yoo, 2005)
  • Food insecurity is associated with lower scores on physical and mental health exams. (Feeding America website - Stuff, Casey, Szeto, Gossett, Robbins, Simpson, Connell, and Bogle, 2004)
  • Food insecure adults may experience higher levels of aggression and anxiety. (Feeding America website- Kleinman, Murphy, Little, Pagano, Wehler, Regal, & Jellinek, 1998; Slack & Yoo, 2005)
  • Inadequate access to food during pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk for low birth weight in babies. (Feeding America website - Borders, Grobman, Amsden, & Holl, 2007)
    • Low birth weight is associated with a variety of other problems, such as a lower IQ at age 18, shorter adult height, and an increased chance of being overweight or obese.
  • Children who are food insecure may be at higher risk for chronic health conditions, like anemia and asthma. (Feeding America website - Kirkpatrick, McIntyre, & Potestio, 2010; Eicher-Miller, Mason, Weaver, McCabe, & Boushey, 2009; Skalicky, Meyers, Adams, Yang, Cook, & Frank, 2006)
  • Children experiencing food insecurity are at a greater risk of being overweight than those who are not – a trend which begins by the preschool years. There is also a correlation between early food insecurity and later overweight and obesity. (Feeding America/Children’s HealthWatch Report)
    • Children whose families experienced food insecurity while the child was a toddler are 3.4 times more likely to be obese at age 4 ½ than children whose families were food secure.
  •  Elementary school kids experiencing severe food insecurity are four times more likely than their peers to require mental health counseling , seven times more likely to be classified as clinically dysfunctional, and seven times more likely to get into fights frequently. (Feeding America/Children’s HealthWatch Report)
  • Children who are food insecure have an elevated occurrence of health problems such as stomachaches, headaches, colds, ear infections, and fatigue (Center on Hunger and Poverty)