Approximately one of every four children ages 2 to 5 years in the United States has a high (>85th percentile) body mass index and about one in 10 is obese (>95th percentile). North Carolina ranks 5th worst in the US for childhood obesity.
About this Publication
Surprisingly, working does not seem to help a low-income person avoid chronic food insecurity. We found that neither working nor accessing government benefits has a meaningful impact on the odds that a person will need long-term food assistance – that is, a recurrent visit to the food pantry to receive bags of free food. In fact, those people who work are more likely to have sacrificed food to pay for other life necessities. For the poor, working makes it harder to put food on the table, not easier.
Government benefits do not seem to provide an adequate food safety net, and non-profits are experiencing increased pressure to fill the gap. The policy ramifications of these findings are clear. First, while this study can not be broadly generalized beyond this population, the findings suggest that policies encouraging work among the poor should recognize the standard of living for these individuals may become less stable, rather than more so, as a result of gaining employment. To more fully understand this relationship, a longitudinal analysis of employment and food assistance data should be undertaken. Second, if we wish to maintain the government responsibility to alleviate hunger in our country, benefits for eligible citizens must be increased or food assistance non-profits need greater government support. Otherwise we should face the fact that as an undeclared public policy, our society tolerates hunger.
Hunger Research Facts
In the United States 45 percent of children under 18 – 32.4 million – live in low-income families.
People who live in a household affected by food insecurity do not always know where they will find their next meal. By contrast, food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
In North Carolina, two-thirds of all adults (65.7%) are overweight or obese. People in poor and low-income households are at risk for obesity because they have limited resources to purchase and often lack of access to healthy, affordable foods. They have fewer opportunities for physical activity, high levels of stress and limited access to health care. Food deprivation may lead to overeating once food becomes available which can also cause weight gain. Low-income youth and adults are exposed to disproportionately more marketing and advertising for obesity-promoting products.
Source: Food Research and Action Center
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