Dr. Deborah Frank, Children’s HealthWatch Founder and Principal Investigator, was quoted in Take Part on Children’s HealthWatch’s recent brief series on the impacts of early childhood food insecurity.

Hunger Eats at Student Productivity—And Our Future Workforce

Food insecure students are lacking in concentration and brain function compared to their better-fed peers, inhibiting their ability to absorb material and succeed in school. There is an increasing consensus that later in life these children will struggle to graduate, find a job, and live as healthy adults—weakening the workforce and costing taxpayers.

These sad realities were the subjects of two research briefs published last week by the pediatrics research and advocacy group Children’s HealthWatch. In “Too Hungry to Learn: Food Insecurity and School Readiness,” researchers synthesized data that shows how the chronic sickness and delayed brain and social development that results from food insecurity inhibits children’s preparedness to learn in a school setting.

But the problem doesn’t start on a kid’s first day of kindergarten. Dr. Deborah A. Frank, who directs the Boston-based Grow Clinic and also serves as a principal researcher for Children’s HealthWatch, points out that the most rapid brain growth occurs in the first year of a child’s life—more than doubling in size—and the construction of the neurotransmitters that control brain function are affected by the quality and quantity of food a child eats.

“Hunger can affect learning long before a child goes to school or can tell you they’re hungry,” she says. “Many of the children whose learning capacity is being affected by the household food insecurity, their problem is invisible because they’re so young. At the same time the brain is most vulnerable, the brain is most likely to be deprived of the nutrition it needs.”

Read the whole article here.