Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Live Blogging from the Idaho Hunger Summit: Part 4

Bread for the World will be working on the reauthorization of the nation’s child nutrition programs – these include school lunch, school breakfast, the WIC program, and much more. It was last reauthorized in 2004, and current law expires on September 30 of 2009. So I decided to stop on by the workshop on child hunger…

The workshop on child hunger is being led by Dr. Patricia Crawford, DrPH, RD, and she’s the Co-director of the Center for Weight and Health at U.C. Berkeley. About 50 people are sitting in.

She’s using a cool interactive tactic... Each attendee has a green card and a red card in front of them. She asks a “fact or fiction” question and then if you think it’s true, you raise the green. If you think it’s false, you raise a red card. (kind of like soccer without the aggressive fouling)

Here’s an example – you can play at home:

Today for the first time, there are almost as many overweight children as there are overweight adults. Fact or Fiction?

A: Fiction. There are over 4 times as many overweight adults as there are overweight children.

Most of the news we hear about kids as it relates to nutrition is about obesity. And there's some good reason for this. According to research at U.C. Berkeley, overweight has replaced malnutrition as the most prevalent nutritional problem among poor kids. Pediatric overweight has increased by 300% in the last 30 years!

Nevertheless, more than one in five kids in Idaho lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table. And there’s strong evidence that food from food banks, WIC, Food Stamps SNAP, childcare, school and after school programs can mediate the relationship between poverty and disease.

Bottom line: whether your goal is reducing obesity or preventing hunger, the impact of good nutrition can't be understated.

Dr. Crawford posed an interesting question:

Q: How do we convince policy makers of the importance of preventing malnutrition, promoting health and preventing obesity?

A: Simple. We give them the data to show them that preventing hunger, obesity, and disease are cost effective (and the right thing to do)

Let’s see… what’s more expensive?...

(a) Modest nutritious meals for kids; or
(b) Treatments and health care for kids with type II diabetes, loss of revenue for schools due to low test scores because hungry kids can’t learn, productivity loss of parents taking time off to take care of kids with malnutrition-related disease… The list goes on.

It’s estimated that overweight and inactivity are estimated to cost Idaho $1.13 BILLION per year in health and employment costs. Wow! This doesn’t even count costs associated with hunger associated with losses in productivity and human capital. (not to mention that child hunger is simply morally unacceptable)

Dear Congress:

When you consider child nutrition reauthorization next year, how ‘bout an ounce of prevention?

Your BFF in Boise,

Dr. Crawford has recently co-authored a book: Obesity: Dietary and Development Influences.


« Live Blogging from the Idaho Hunger Summit: Random Musing Live Blogging from the Idaho Hunger Summit: Closing session »


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