Children’s HealthWatch researchers wrote a column on the importance of SNAP as part of BU Today’s POV series.
POV: Starving Out Food Stamps
SNAP acts as a vaccine against food insecurity and hunger. Food insecurity is the measure of households’ inability to get enough healthful food in socially acceptable ways for all its members to live active, healthy lives. It is the food access threshold for serious, harmful health effects at all stages of life, from the womb to old age. Our research consortium, Children’s HealthWatch, has for more than a decade accumulated data on the impacts of food insecurity and interventions to decrease food insecurity among low-income babies and young children.
These youngest Americans and their families are at highest risk of food insecurity. Infants and young children in the first three years of life, the most critical period for the growth of the body and brain, are the most physiologically vulnerable to lasting ill effects of food insecurity on health and learning. They also are less likely to be considered in state and federal legislative debates about policies that affect their well-being.
In the 14 years since the food security measures were developed, a substantial body of peer-reviewed research literature has documented strong relationships between food insecurity and negative physical and mental health outcomes in children and adults. Our research, and that of many others, has convinced us that food insecurity—which affects approximately 16 million US children (21.6 percent)—is one of the greatest public health threats that our nation faces.