Estimates show that in the United States, a substantial
number of children below the age of 5 are from homes which suffer from food
insecurity. This implies that such households have insufficient quantity of
food, either in terms of quality or quantity of food. Children from such homes
find it harder than their peers from homes with sufficient food, to cope with
kindergarten. The findings of the study were published in the journal
‘The nutritional needs of children below 5 years should be monitored carefully for better development.’
Timing of Food
might not be a welcome condition,
however, the timing
when it occurs
is vital in child development, according to the assistant professor of
psychology at Georgetown University, Dr. Anna Johnson, who led the research.
The study showed that:
Number of Times of
- Food insecurity
that existed when the child was in its infancy or during toddlerhood
indicated reduced cognitive ability
as well as social-emotional skills during kindergarten.
- Cognitive and
socio-emotional skills were essential indicators of success during the
later stages of life.
- The association
between food insecurity and kindergarten performance was negative, according to Dr.
Apart from the stage at which there is food insecurity,
the study found an association with the number of times the child was exposed
to food insecurity. The research team identified three different stages at
which there was an association between food insecurity and kindergarten performance
- When the child
was 9 months old
- When the child
was 2 years old
- When the child
was about 4 years old.
Association between episodes of food insecurity and
- More the number
of episodes of food insecurity, which constitute more than 3 episodes of
food insecurity, lower the kindergarten performance.
The performance associated with kindergarten included all
the areas of development.
The study was carried out to determine the development of
the child during the first 5 years, associating it with social-emotional,
cognitive skills and behavior during the start of kindergarten. The study was
based on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort and
analyzed the outcome of children from 3,700 low-income households in the study
population. The study involved understanding the association between the
duration and the timing of food intensity on a child's ability in math, reading
skills as well as on the social-emotional ability during the start of
The study was initiated when the child was 9 months old,
when parents and the child were assessed. The assessment as repeated again when
the child was 1,4 and 5 years old, focusing on the reading and math ability.
The children were also tested for their ability to conduct problems, levels of
hyperactivity as well as their way of learning.
This study provides an understanding of the association
between skills at the start of kindergarten and food insecurity. The research
team involved in the study, however, cautions that the results of the study are
non-causal and that there could be another factor which could have been
missed in the study.
Dr. Anna Markowitz, a postdoctoral research associate
with the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, said, that the
findings of the study were a cause of worry. There should be an increase in the
amount of food that is provided during food assistance programs, which would
reach out to families suffering from food insufficiency, especially with
children below 2 years of age. Such food support will aid in improving success
at school and boost vulnerable children.
Food Insecurity and
a study conducted by Diana F. Jyoti and colleagues from Cornell University,
titled "Food Insecurity Affects School Children's Academic Performance, Weight
Gain, and Social Skills" and published in the Journal of Nutrition
, longitudinal data was used to investigate how
food insecurity was associated with patterns in reading and mathematics test
performance, BMI and social skills among children. The study was based on data
from the 'Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort', where an
estimated 21,000 nationally representative children joining kindergarten were
analyzed up till their 3rd
standard. In this study, it was shown
that food insecurity was predictive of below average developmental trajectories
among children. This is, therefore, an important marker of how a child would
fare in terms of development. The study provided one of the earliest and a
strong support about food insecurity and its association with developmental
consequences among children.
nutritional needs of children are vital to their learning process. Lack of
right nutrition could hamper development, resulting in long term struggle, thus
highlighting the need for better nutrition. A collective effort needs to be
taken by Governing bodies to provide adequate nutrition for
from impoverished families.
- Food Insecurity Affects School Children's Academic Performance, Weight Gain, and Social Skills - (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/12/2831.full)