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The Consequences of Childhood Food Insecurity

Adequate nutrition is critically important to
children's health, academic success and well-being.
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What is food insecurity?
It is defined as being hungry or at-risk of hunger.

How many children in Kansas are food insecure?
Feeding America, a large corporate initiative funded by The ConAgra Foods Foundation funded research to answer this question. The researchers estimate that in Kansas 22.6% of the states children under age 18 are food insecure. For more information about the research or to view food insecurity data by county, visit

Did you know?

Between ages 0 - 3, children living in food insecure households are 1.3 times as likely as food-secure peers to have a history of hospitalization.

Toddlers who live in food-insecure households are 3.4 times more likely to be obese by age 4-1/2.

Children living in food insecure households are 1.5 times as likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.

Food-insecure preschool children are 1.5 times more likely to be in fair or poor health, and 2 times as likely to suffer from stomachaches as their food-secure peers of equal household income.

Kindergarteners from food insecure homes enter kindergarten with lower math scores, and learn less over the course of their kindergarten school year.

By 3rd grade, children who lived in food-insecure homes during their kindergarten year had a 13% drop in reading and math test scores, compared to food-secure peers.

Food insecure elementary school children are 4 times more likely to require mental health counseling, 7 times more likely to be classified as clinically dysfunctional, 7 times more like to get into fights frequently, and 12 times more likely to steal.

Children classified as hungry are 2 times as likely as non-hungry peers to be receiving special education services, and to have to repeat a grade.

By their teenage years, children from food insecure homes are twice as likely as peers to have seen a psychologist, and twice as likely to have been suspended from school.


Thanks to Barbara LaClair of the Kansas Food Security Task Force for compiling the above information from the November 2008 research paper Reading, Writing and Hungry: The consequences of food insecurity on children, and on our nation's economic success by James Weill and Elizabeth March.
Research Brief - PDF
Full Report - PDF

The Partnership for America's Economic Success website includes the above report and others on the importance of health during childhood.


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