16.1 million children in the United States are currently living in poverty. Nearly one in four US children face hunger, lack of healthcare, and food insecurity. These findings were published in the October issue of the medical journal, JAMA Pediatrics. The report, titled “Seen but Not Heard: Children and US Federal Policy on Health and Health Care,” found numerous adverse health effects of poverty, which include high risks of low birth weight, injuries, lower IQ, intensive care unit admissions, and food insecurity. The report found that 22% of U.S children live in food-insecure households; one in three of those children rely on food stamp benefit programs such as WIC, which provides food assistance to children and parents.
Child obesity is one of the health problems that result from this food insecurity. The report found that one in three U.S. children are overweight. These health problems are caused partly by the insufficient access to healthy foods on the food assistance programs, combined with the results of poverty and social spending cutbacks.
The budget cuts that went into effect in 2013 have severely impacted anti-poverty programs for children. In 2013, nearly $354 million dollars was cut from government food assistance programs like WIC and SNAP. The Obama administration’s 2015 budget proposal would cut funding by more than five percent to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. Overall, the report’s authors noted, “Children account for 73.5 million Americans (24%), but 8% of federal expenditures.”
Andre Damon, “US Child Poverty Remains at Highest Rate in 20 Years,” World Socialist Web Site, October 27, 2014, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/10/27/chil-o27.html.
Glenn Flores and Bruce Lesley, “Seen but Not Heard: Children and US Federal Policy on Health and Health Care,” JAMA Pediatrics, October 20, 2014, http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1915533.
Student Researcher: Nick Millsap (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Erik Nielsen (Sociology Department)