Children from food insecure families show poor diabetic control, Canadian scientists have warned and called for greater awareness of maintaining the right balance in their diet.
Managing diabetes in a child requires a careful balance of insulin, diet, and exercise. Buying essential medical supplies, such as needles and testing strips, adds a financial burden to families.
According to a new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics
, the resulting food insecurity that arises from the financial burden of diabetes management increases a child's risk of being hospitalized due to complications from diabetes.
According to study author Dr. Elizabeth Cummings, "A household is food secure when all members have access to food that is safe and varied enough to meet their nutritional needs. Families who are hungry, who use food banks or food stamps, or those who worry about affording food are considered food insecure."
Drs. Cummings and colleagues from Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Centre, and Mount Saint Vincent University interviewed 183 Canadian families with at least one child with diabetes over a 16 month period. They completed a survey that assessed their food security, demographic information (e.g., income, education levels), and strategies used to mitigate the financial burden of their child's diabetes.
The researchers found that 22% of the families they interviewed were food insecure, a significantly higher percentage than the national Canadian rate of 9.2%. Food security is not just a problem in Canada, however. A report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service states that 17.4 million households had difficulty providing enough food due to lack of resources in 2009.1 According to Dr. Cummings, "Children from food insecure families had poorer diabetes control and were 3.7 times more likely to require hospitalization for diabetes within the past year."