Holidays and tables full of delicious food usually go hand in hand, but for nearly half of the children in the United States, this is not guaranteed.
"49 percent of all U.S. children will be in a household that uses food stamps at some point during their childhood," says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., poverty expert at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. "Food stamp use is a clear sign of poverty and food insecurity, two of the most detrimental economic conditions affecting a child's health."
According to Rank, the substantial risk of a child being in a family that uses food stamps is consistent with a wider body of research demonstrating that U.S. children face considerable economic risk throughout their childhood years. "Rather than being a time of security and safety, the childhood years for many American children are a time of economic turmoil, risk, and hardship," Rank says.
Rank's study, "Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood," is published in the current issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Other study findings include:
"Understanding the degree to which American children are exposed to the risks of poverty and food insecurity across childhood is essential information for the health care and social service communities," Rank says. "Even limited exposure to poverty can have detrimental effects upon a child's overall quality of health and well-being."