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Hunger and Nutrition

The Relationship Between Hunger and Nutrition

Hunger and nutrition go hand in hand in the lives of youth. Without proper nutrition, they suffer from vitamin imbalances and malnutrition. Families who often go hungry and are food insecure are more likely to buy or receive cheaper less nutritious food. Making it more likely for them to suffer from malnutrition. 

Malnutrition affects all parts of life through a few key characteristics: withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities, school, and relationships, hunger-related medical problems, and other physical and mental health issues. Many youths experiencing these sorts of issues simply do it because they feel there is nothing for them to do except their current state of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition as just the way it is. For them, there is nothing anyone is doing to help them and nothing they can do to get out of the situation.

Low food security and hunger can contribute to toxic stress – the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system. Hunger-related toxic stress can negatively affect brain development, learning, information processing, and academic achievement in children.

Low food security and hunger can contribute to toxic stress – the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system. Malnutrition in the first years of life is especially harmful, impacting physical growth, decreasing resistance to disease, limiting the size and functioning of children’s brain structures, and stunting intellectual capacity.

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Studies show that food insufficiency is associated with higher prevalence of poor health conditions, including stomachaches, headaches, and colds;viii and that severe hunger can predict chronic illness among both preschooland school-age children.

Severe hunger is associated with anxiety and depression among children. Research shows that families’ lack of sufficient food, irrespective of their income, is associated with depressive disorders and suicidality in teens.